Q&A: DESIGN’S FUTURE | 2013 CASINO DESIGN AWARDS | TUTOR PERINI’S DICK RIZZO | BUILDING EXCITEMENT A
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FEATURES The Downtown Casino 20 A look at the design essentials of urban casinos and why they can be a catalyst for city redevelopment. BY MARJORIE PRESTON
Casino Design Q&A: High-Tech Future
With iPads, iPhones, tablets and mobile devices becoming ever-present, what will this mean for the casino of the future? In our annual Q&A, top architects, designers and builders reveal where they believe the industry is headed. MODERATED BY JULIE BRINKERHOFF-JACOBS
Navajo Nation: Tribal Gaming, the Right Way
The Small Stuff: Keeping Current 40
For years, the Navajo Nation resisted participation in tribal government gaming, citing cultural and logistical issues. When the decision to move forward was made, the tribal chairman and council made several decisions that have resulted in controlled development, a step-by-step process and maximum benefits. BY ROGER GROS
How to fix an aging casino without alienating current customers, while appealing to new ones. BY KLAUS M. STEINKE AND JANE S. LEE
Dick Rizzo: Sarno Award Winner
COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS
Recognized as one of the industry’s most innovative and respected builders, Dick Rizzo of Tudor Perini is awarded the Sarno Award, the most prestigious presentation at G2E’s annual Casino Design Award program.
BY ROGER GROS
BY ROGER GROS
Our annual roundup of the year’s most innovative and exciting casino developments BY CASINO DESIGN STAFF
Casino Design Awards: Best of the Best 50
The preeminent awards program recognizing the architects and designers who shape the modern gaming industry.
BY PATRICK ROBERTS
BY JIM GIST
Hotel Brands: More for Your Money 52
COMPANY PROFILES Cuningham Group Architecture 59
American Project Management
Bergman Walls & Associates 58 Cleo Design
The boutique hotel concept is not just limited to major cities or gaming destinations. Here’s how a small budget can lead to a big impact with overnight guests.
Gasser Chair Company
Hnedak Bobo Group
The Sarno Legacy
JBA Consulting Engineers
The trends in casino design over the past four decades can be traced to one visionary, Jay Sarno. Sarno’s influence has led to the way casinos look today.
BY DAVE BONTEMPO
BY DAVID G. SCHWARTZ
ON THE COVER: Lobby, Twin Arrows Casino Resort, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Friedmutter Group. casinodesignmagazine.com
PUBLISHER’S LETTER A GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS PUBLICATION 2013
Doing More With Less
BY ROGER GROS
few changes to this year’s Casino Design magazine got me to thinking about how much investment projects are attracting today. First, the changes: We’ve moved the printing of Casino Design to later in the year, which allows us to focus on the G2E Casino Design Awards, a program that we began 12 years ago in conjunction with a conference on casino design we were running at the time. When we sold the conference to Reed Exhibitions, G2E took over the awards program. So a move to the November-December time frame allows us to recognize the winners, particularly the Sarno Award for Lifetime Achievement, the ultimate honor for anyone involved in this field. What got me to thinking about investment were the winners of this year’s competition compared to those in previous years. The winners of the previous two awards for the large properties were the Cosmopolitan and Revel. The total investment on each was around $4.5 billion and $2 billion, respectively. This year, the winner was Margaritaville Bossier City, with a total investment of just over $200 million. And the Native American winner was Twin Arrows (our cover story), which also came in around $200 million. Yes, that’s a big difference, but what was not so different was the appeal of those properties in their markets. Certainly, the three markets are completely different. The Cosmopolitan opened in the midst of the recession when visitation, as well as gaming revenue, was significantly down in Las Vegas. Compounding its problem was a focus on non-gaming amenities, to the point where gaming was virtually ignored. The same was true for Revel in Atlantic City, but competition from surrounding jurisdictions made the situation even worse. In Bossier City, Margaritaville was the first new property to open in more than a dozen years, but also in a market that had been hard hit by competition from Oklahoma Indian casinos poaching its principal Dallas market. Twin Arrows opened in a somewhat remote location east of Flagstaff, Arizona, but competition is many miles away, giving the tribe access to locals and travelers along I-40 alike. The difference in all these properties was that Margaritaville was conceived and planned after the economic downturn, and the property was designed for the realities of the market.
CASINO DESIGN 2013
That wasn’t true in either Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Cosmopolitan and Revel pushed forward even when it became evident that business conditions would be markedly different when they opened than when they were conceived. As a result, both properties have lost barrel loads of money since opening, even if their design was deemed to be superior. The lesson we learn from this is that some very substantial research must be done before building to determine the size of the market, the surrounding competition, and the projected revenue flow. And while both Cosmopolitan and Revel were designed to capture the nongaming market, the assumption that they’d get their fair share of gaming revenue was plain wrong—particularly when you have no plan in place to aggressively win that share of gaming revenue, a factor present in each case. Margaritaville, on the other hand, looked at a market that was being served by properties that hadn’t been updated in years—or in some cases even properly maintained. Revenues were flat or declining, with little reason for new customers to consider the Shreveport/Bossier City market. Margaritaville has changed that. And its location adjacent to the outlet mall, the Louisiana Boardwalk, gives Margaritaville a non-gaming appeal as well. With Twin Arrows, financing by the tribe, not by Wall Street, made the decision to configure the property realistically an easy one. But in each case, Margaritaville and Twin Arrows developed top-flight facilities that are as impressive as Cosmopolitan and Revel were in their markets, and probably more profitable. Now we do have some billion-dollar-plus properties on the horizon. Baha Mar in the Bahamas will open late next year, with a price tag north of that figure. But we’ll also have SLS Las Vegas, the Sam Nazarian property that will expend much less than $500 million. So maybe the jury is still out. But the bottom line has to be that owners must conduct a complete feasibility study that looks at the market from every angle, makes all the assumptions in a wide range of results, and considers all economic conditions at the time of the casino’s opening. This may mean building in phases, which is not always the best way to do things, but in this case, the most responsible.
Roger Gros, Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org Frank Legato, Editor | email@example.com Robert Rossiello, Art Director | firstname.lastname@example.org David Coheen, North American Sales & Marketing Director email@example.com Floyd Sembler, Business Development Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Becky Kingman-Gros, Director of Operations email@example.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Dave Bontempo | Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs Pamela Jones | Jane Lee | Marjorie Preston Patrick Roberts | David Schwartz | Klaus Steinke EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Mark Birtha, Vice President and General Manager, Fiesta Henderson Casino Hotel • Geoff Freeman, President & CEO, American Gaming Association • Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, President Lifescapes International • Nicholas Casiello Jr., Shareholder Fox Rothschild • Jeffrey Compton, Publisher, CDC E-Reports • Dean Macomber, President, Macomber International, Inc. • Michael Johnson, Industry Vice President, Global Gaming Expo, Reed Exhibitions • Stephen Martino, Director, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency • Jim Rafferty, President, Rafferty & Associates • Thomas Reilly, General Manager, ACSC Product Group Eastern Region Vice President, Bally Systems • Steven M. Rittvo, President, The Innovation Group • Katherine Spilde, Executive Director, Sycuan Gaming Institute, San Diego State University • Ernie Stevens, Jr. Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association • Roy Student, President, Applied Management Strategies • David D. Waddell, Partner, Regulatory Management Counselors PC Casino Connection International LLC. 921 American Pacific Dr, Suite 304, Henderson, NV 89014 702-248-1565 • 702-248-1567 (fax) www.ggbmagazine.com The views and opinions expressed by the writers and columnists of CASINO DESIGN are not necessarily the views of the publisher or editor. Copyright 2013 Global Gaming Business LLC., Las Vegas, NV 89118 CASINO DESIGN is published annually by Casino Connection International, LLC. Printed in Nevada, USA. Postmaster: Send Change of Address forms to: Global Gaming Business, 921 American Pacific Dr, Suite 304, Henderson, NV 89014 www.casinodesignmagazine.com
A BAKER’S DOZEN OF THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GAMING BUSINESS BY THE INDUSTRY’S LEADING ARCHITECTS, DESIGNERS AND BUILDERS
FLAGSHIP OF FUN
MARGARITAVILLE RESORT CASINO Bossier City, Louisiana LONGTIME CASINO EXECUTIVE Paul Alanis, the operator and owner of the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, says Margaritaville is the most powerful casino brand around. “It has a fun and relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect theme for any casino,” he told Global Gaming Business just days before the casino opened last June. And fun is what was lacking in the Shreveport/Bossier City market for many years. The region’s seven casinos have seen flat or declining revenues for at least half a dozen years as competition from Oklahoma cut into the region’s principal Dallas market. Margaritaville has brought that fun to the banks of the Red River. The relaxed Gulf Coast spirit influenced the project’s design along with the “Parrothead” culture that has grown up around entertainment legend Jimmy Buffett and his music. Located on the north end of the Louisiana Boardwalk—newly branded as The Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk—the 391,000-square-foot resort went from planning in May 2011 to opening its doors to the public in June 2013. The $205 million resort deftly integrates live entertainment, volcano shows, restaurants, bars, a 395room hotel and a 46,330-square-foot casino floor, making this resort a must-see and 6
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stay destination. Cuningham Group’s principal in charge of the project, Thomas Hoskens, notes, “The Margaritaville brand’s strong following and incredibly rich design standards led to the incorporation of many trademark elements such as a Volcano Bar, fishing and shrimp boats, a Blue Goose airplane hanging from the rafters, palm trees and island torches.” Challenged by Louisiana gaming regulations that require a casino to be a floating vessel, required by the Coast Guard to be fully seaworthy, the Cuningham Group and its contractors went one step further by designing the first cast-in-place concrete barge with a steel superstructure. In the past, casino barges had their roof structures resting on the land, not on the barge as this one does. The basin that floats the barge is supported by 387 auger-cast concrete pilings that penetrate through the soft riverbank sediments down to a solid rock layer of the earth. The resort’s sense of arrival includes a wooden island pagoda greeting guests. Beckoning just inside the doors from the porte cochere is a 30-foot-high atrium filled with island flowers and lofty palms. The casino features 1,238 slot and video machines and 54 table games amid a sophis-
ticated island atmosphere of palm trees, tropical breezes and aqua-colored spaces. The casino resort is flush with entertainment offerings including a 1,000-seat performance hall, four dining venues including a two-story Margaritaville Restaurant, and seven specially designed, wood-topped bars with more than 100 one-of-a-kind pictures of Jimmy Buffett sealed within them. The project is poised to attract locals as well as visitors from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma as they come to experience the country’s newest Margaritaville and bond with Parrothead fans. The brand’s influence is also bound to be a boon to the area’s other casinos and The Outlets. This project is the second Margaritaville-themed casino designed by Cuningham Group—the first opened in Biloxi, Mississippi in May 2012. —PATRICK ROBERTS OWNER: Bossier Casino Venture, LLC ARCHITECT (exterior): Cuningham Group Architecture INTERIOR DESIGNER: The McBride Company,
Suzanne Kisbye, Allison Alanis
CONTRACTOR: Roy Anderson Corp. TOTAL INVESTMENT: $200 million
ISLE ATMOSPHERE ISLE OF CAPRI CASINO Cape Girardeau, Missouri
EVERY BUILDING PROJECT brings excitement, but the question is, what kind? There are times when the excitement occurs naturally—finding the large parcel of land, opening the financial spigots and creating magic. On other occasions, there are obstacles. Yet even challenges can be exciting, like building a floating casino near the New Madrid Fault. That was the case for Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, a project involving Kuhlmann Design Group, Inc. of St. Louis. It called for several unique design challenges, and the final product proved to be a spectacle when the casino opened in October 2012. The project location just north of the historic downtown district and adjacent to Cape Girardeau’s concrete levee wall needed to be within 1,000 feet of the Mississippi River. Over 50 parcels of land making up over eight square blocks were consolidated. Main Street was upgraded and rerouted to accommodate the development. The build-
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD HOLLYWOOD CASINO AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY Kansas City, Missouri
WHEN IT OPENED IN FEBRUARY 2012, the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway became the first Las Vegas-style gaming hall in the Sunflower State. And while it offers all the amenities of a first-class Vegas resort—from a 95,000square-foot gaming floor to top-flight restaurants and bars—in style, in attitude and in name itself, the Hollywood is more reminiscent of another great American destination: Tinseltown. The $400 million investment, a joint venture of Penn National Gaming and International Speedway Corp. for the Kansas Lottery, is located on 100 acres in Kansas City and overlooks the second turn of the popular Kansas Speedway, home of the NASCAR
ing structure needed to comply with Missouri regulations calling for a floating casino floor. The location near the fault required a design of the super structure, basin and barge. Despite these significant design challenges, KdG designed a dramatic and seamless casino that blurs the transitions between the barge and land-based pavilion. The colorful and modern casino offers patrons 948 gaming positions, a 700-seat event center, buffet, fine dining restaurant, sports bar, express café and lounge overlooking the Mississippi River. Throughout the planning process, discussion revolved around operational flexibility. By placing the fine dining, sports bar, express café and second-floor lounge along the south end of the casino floor, for example, operators could consolidate kitchens for increased efficiency and flexibility. However, state law required control points at points of entry for the gaming floor. The design solu-
Sprint Cup Series. Despite the clear influence of the Motor Age, inside the casino looks and feels like Hollywood, from its gilded Art Deco-style porte cochere to interior architecture featuring bold geometric shapes, lavish ornamentation, regal columns and dramatic lighting.
tion was a feature stair tower and two monumental sliding doors. The doors on the tower can be configured four ways, allowing the operator choice of venue accessibility directly from the casino floor or lobby. Within this tower, a seismic steel support was left exposed as a dynamic design element. —DAVE BONTEMPO OWNER/OPERATOR: Isle Of Capri Casinos, Inc. PROJECT ARCHITECT: Kuhlmann Design Group, Inc. INTERIOR DESIGN: Kuhlmann Design Group, Inc. TOTAL INVESTMENT: $70 million
plays that intersperse promotional content with classic film clips. The Hollywood theme continues in the food and beverage outlets with the aptly named Marquee Café, Epic Buffet, Final Cut Steakhouse, and Hollywood and Grind Coffee and Pastry Shop. The colorful casino has 2,000 slot machines and more than 50 table games. The project, which was delivered under budget and six weeks ahead of schedule, also includes a 1,250-car parking garage, and is master-planned for expansion. A hotel with convention space could be added, along with an entertainment district featuring additional restaurants and bars. —MARJORIE PRESTON
Visual references to Hollywood’s Golden Age ARCHITECTS: Yaeger Architecture Inc. with recur throughout the property from subtle Marnell Architecture cues in the ceiling treatments to a more INTERIOR DESIGN: Genesis Associates, Inc. emphatic statement in a scrolled design element above the casino floor, which resembles CONTRACTOR: Turner Construction Company an unfurled filmstrip. The look is developed TOTAL INVESTMENT: $400 million with more Art Deco details and video discasinodesignmagazine.com
The space, influenced by motifs from Chinese literature, recalls Shanghai’s golden age, a time when dance halls, tango teahouses and underground cocktail bars flourished.
PARIS OF THE EAST CHINA ROUGE Galaxy Macau
IN EARLY 2012, GALAXY MACAU added a new members-only salon geared to high rollers and other elite clients. A hybrid of showroom and bar/lounge spanning more than 17,200 square feet, China Rouge, designed by Alan Chan of Hong Kong, blends the artistic sensibilities of Old Shanghai, 19th century Paris and “the fabulous women of the decadent era,” according to Galaxy Entertainment. With his design partner Ryu Kosaka, creative director of Aoyama Nomura Design of Tokyo, Chan took a full year to create the space, from first drafts to completion. For his work on China Rouge, Chan won a bronze award at the 2013 International Design Awards in the Interior Design Concept category. The space, influenced by motifs from Chinese literature, recalls Shanghai’s golden age, a time when dance halls, tango teahouses and underground cocktail bars flourished. As the cultural center of Asia, the city was known as the “Paris of the East.” China Rouge also is inspired by Le Chat Noir, which opened in Paris in 1881 and attracted artists such as ToulouseLautrec as well as the leading philosophers and aristocrats of La Belle Epoque. Galaxy defines the hybrid space as a “forbidden chamber for the elite” including 8
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a warren of exotic and intimate spaces imbued with deep shades of red, gold, purple and black. The showroom’s main floor has both private tables and personal boxes on a mezzanine floor. Entertainment ranges from cabaret singers to saucy revues to unplugged performances and celebrity DJs. China Rouge also serves as a gallery of contemporary art with commissioned works from Buhua, Chen Men, Deng Xinli, Li Jian and Zheng Lu, all of whom pay homage to women, past and present. Chan, who is as well-known for his product designs as for his interior design, conceptualized and created many artifacts for China Rouge, including a glass carving mural called “The Plum in the Golden Vase,” a mosaic mural known as “Chinese Beauties” and other works in jade, bronze and stained glass that celebrate Asian spirit and feminine power. Chan is one of Asia’s most celebrated designers and brand consultants. Over the past 40 years, his studio has amassed more than 600 local and international awards and his portfolio includes influential brands such as Coca Cola China, Fendi, the Four Seasons hotel, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Salvatore Ferragamo and Seiko. Working on China Rouge, he says, “I decided to take the Art Deco style of 1930s
Shanghai as the main theme. “Not only because of my personal preference, but also because the artistic style of that era is vivid—making strong visual statements, with beautiful details and colors. That period in China had a profound impact on designs that followed across Asia.”
On its opening, Francis Lui, vice chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group, said China Rouge “combines elements of the Chinese, European and modern in a way that has never been done before” and said the club would offer “one of the finest nightlife experiences in the world.” —MARJORIE PRESTON
IMAGE DIRECTOR: Alan Chan of Alan Chan Design Company (ACDC), Hong Kong DESIGN PARTNER: Ryu Kosaka of Aoyama Nomura Design, Tokyo CAPACITY: Seating capacity approximately 196, standing capacity approximately 400 FLOOR AREA: 17,222 square feet
2013 CASINO DESIGN AWARD B est Arch i te c tu ra l D es i gn ove r $100 M i l l i o n Margaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City, Louisiana
www.cuningham.com MINNEAPOLIS LOS ANGELES LAS VEGAS BILOXI DENVER SAN DIEGO PHOENIX SEOUL BEIJING
MISSISSIPPI LIGHTS L’AUBERGE CASINO & HOTEL Baton Rouge, Louisiana
PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT’S L’Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana carries a design that reflects its surroundings. Located on the Mississippi River waterfront, the 205-room hotel and 74,000-square-foot casino presents a contemporary interpretation of a Louisiana fishing lodge. Lighting was essential to the creation of this atmosphere. For this job, Pinnacle chose Michigan-based Illuminating Concepts (IC), an architectural and themed lighting designer known for the creation of what it calls “immersion experiences” through lighting. For L’Auberge, IC created a sustainable and creative lighting design as well as stateof-the-art audio and video solutions, beginning with a grandiose promenade which is indirectly illuminated to give “a real-life connection to the outdoor environment,” according to one of the firm’s designers. The exterior architectural elements of the building are highlighted individually to create a layered lighting effect instead of the traditional flat flood lighting typically used for casinos. For the interior, innovative solutions for lighting and audio/video integration enhance both the comfort and aesthetic appeal of the visitor experience on the gaming floor.
CASINO DESIGN 2013
IC’s focus was on providing quality lighting and AV solutions that supported the environment without distraction. Foremost on Pinnacle’s auditory wish list was a clean, intelligible audio playback system on the casino floor. This direction was distilled into a set of design criteria: high uniformity of both frequency and volume coverage, excellent vocal reproduction, and enough system headroom to provide sufficient volume above the high level of ambient noise. IC then developed virtual room models and speaker layouts, which when combined with audiometric speaker data and acoustic modeling software confirmed speaker placement and amplification requirements. One major design element of the casino floor was a coffered ceiling that followed the long table game pit through the center of the gaming floor. Groupings of large decorative lighting pendants suspended beneath the copper-clad ceiling provided a distinctive visual identity to the space. Indirect illumination of the copper finish provided warmth and visual brightness while preventing direct glare on the adjacent video displays. The provision of a dropped ceiling structure mitigated the typical integration issues related to table game lighting and
maintained the clean ceiling lines. The circular layout of the high-limit gaming lounge posed several interesting challenges for AV and lighting. Limited space on the concave perimeter walls and the owner’s aversion to pedestal-mounted displays led IC to propose an integrated media chandelier, which would serve as both a decorative focal point and an elegant mounting location for four ultra-thin 46inch LCD displays. Working closely with the architect, interior designer, structural engineer and custom chandelier fabricator, IC developed a unique solution that seamlessly married a large-scale beaded chandelier, integrated LED lighting, media player storage, and custom display mounts, providing the perfect visual centerpiece for the elegant VIP gaming room. —FRANK LEGATO OWNER: Pinnacle Entertainment ARCHITECT: Manning Architects DESIGN ARCHITECT: Marnell Companies LIGHTING DESIGN: Illuminating Concepts TOTAL INVESTMENT: $368 million
ROLLING ON THE RIVER MAGNOLIA BLUFFS CASINO Natchez, Mississippi
SITED JUST BELOW THE HISTORIC Roth Hill in Natchez, Mississippi, Magnolia Bluffs Casino was built over the Mississippi River to comply with the state’s gaming regulations. The project is supported on nearly 50 steel piles, giving patrons the feeling that they are floating on the river and providing a real connection to the site often overlooked in typical casino designs. Using rustic materials and local vernacular, EV&A Architects collaborated with the Natchez Historical Society to replicate an early 20th century cedar mill that was located here nearly a century ago. A municipal pedestrian river walk winds itself around the building’s riverside perimeter, providing access to the casino’s “back-porch” amenities, complete with a fire pit and breathtaking views of the Mississippi and majestic sunsets. The project’s interior further reinforces the
MARGARITAVILLE AND LANDSHARK BAR & GRILL PIER Atlantic City, New Jersey
RESORTS CASINO HOTEL HIRED SOSH Architects and interiors firm McBride Design to recharge the Atlantic City property with a series of Jimmy Buffett-themed attractions. This complex project contains three main parts: Margaritaville Casino and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar; Margaritaville Café, retail store, and coffee shop; and Landshark Bar & Grill Pier. Paying close attention to the particulars of Resorts’ oceanfront site and its existing Art Deco architecture, SOSH and McBride set out to bring a new level of energy and activity to the Boardwalk property. The completed design blends the dignity of the historic building with the lighthearted island lifestyle, refashioning Resorts into a dynamic entertainment destination. Margaritaville Casino, featuring 160 slot machines, brings the relaxed atmosphere of the tropics to Resorts’ gaming floor. SOSH and McBride employed a menagerie of festive colors, island-inspired patterns (such as stylized wave and palm elements), and select Boardwalk views to create this open yet intimate space. The 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, featuring a wave-colored glass-tile bar and a wooden
treasured history of this site by displaying historical art pieces of the mills that once were an integral part of the river’s landscape. The 40,000-square-foot facility features an open gaming floor with 600 slot machines and a complete complement of table games. A centrally located sports bar, a 180-seat themed buffet and a 75-seat fine dining specialty restaurant complete the project’s offerings. —FRANK LEGATO
cabana canopy, contributes to the beach-like atmosphere. Margaritaville-themed table games surround the bar, while “flair bartenders” entertain guests with their cocktail-mixing performances and signature drink creations. The Caribbean experience continues with the Margaritaville Café, themed retail store, and coffee shop (the first in the Margaritaville portfolio). The Café features a double-height space that showcases an island-themed oasis, complete with a seaplane, palm trees, a Stiltsville home, and a buoy-shaped stage for live musical performances. The Margaritaville theme extends to Resorts’ Boardwalk façade. To complement the ground-level masonry arches, original to the 1920s building, SOSH introduced arched glazed openings to the second story. The arched components provide elegant counterparts to the fantastical shark fin/wave frieze and island hut motif that adorn the Boardwalk elevation. Indeed, a variety of seemingly contradictory materials and textures—limestone, neon, brick, thatch—create an exciting and cohesive design that ties together old and new, solid and porous, heavy and light, Art Deco and island. The resulting façade serves as both a backdrop for and a participant in the Boardwalk’s lively performance. The Landshark Bar & Grill capitalizes on its amazing beach location. The design features retractable walls to create views of the ocean and Boardwalk. Awnings on the outside deck shield
OWNER: Premier Gaming Group ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER: EV&A
CONTRACTOR: RA Edgin Construction PROGRAM MANAGER: John Fox, FOXCOR COST: $25 million
open-air diners from the summer sun and emit heat in cooler months. Linear wooden planks appear throughout the Bar & Grill, comprising a large portion of the interior floor, wall and ceiling surfaces as well as the outdoor deck. These wooden elements draw the Boardwalk itself into the restaurant and bar, creating continuity between interior and exterior. Guests experience the activity of the Boardwalk, beach and pier as one continuous celebration. —PATRICK ROBERTS
OWNER: Resorts Casino Hotel ARCHITECTS OF RECORD: SOSH Architects INTERIOR DESIGNER: McBride Design GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Massett Construction TOTAL INVESTMENT: $35 million
A WALK IN THE MOUNTAINS HARRAH’S CHEROKEE CASINO HOTEL Cherokee, North Carolina
HARRAH’S CHEROKEE CASINO HOTEL, set among the natural splendors of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains, has been a mainstay of entertainment in the Southeastern U.S. since 1997. Now, following a dramatic five-year renovation, the resort may truly be called world-class. Caesars Entertainment and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lavished $650 million on the multi-phase upgrade, which added more than 8,300 square feet of retail space, a 10,000-square-foot VIP lounge, a 3,001-seat event center, the 18,000square-foot Mandara Spa, and the new 21story Creek Tower hotel. The expansion doubled the casino floor to an impressive 360,000 square feet, with 4,000 slots and 100 table games. Working with Cuningham Group Architecture, designers created an aesthetic that celebrates the grandeur of the resort’s environment along with the rich history of the seven clans of the Eastern Band. The mighty rotunda entrance includes soaring tree-like elements that come to life with light and sound for a remarkable sensory experience. Eight 60-foot tall trees are set 12
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with more than 30,000 colored, digitally programmed LED lights that flicker in vivid, ever-changing patterns. Dual 68-foot interior waterfalls cascade from ceiling to floor. An immense floating spiral staircase seems to defy gravity. And a giant wrap-around video screen tells the story of the Cherokee in a dazzling sound-and-light show. On the gaming floor, designers crafted a quartet of distinct nature-themed zones to usher guests through the casino. Together they are meant to suggest a walk from the foothills into the mountains and upward, with ever-changing geographic features, bright foliage and shifting light. The “Earth Water” section, with finishes that evoke stratified layers of earth, features 460 new electronic games plus a full bar, lounge and 560-seat Chefs Stage Buffet. “River Valley” winds into a more sophisticated gaming area with the VIP Lounge, high-limit area and the Le Fu Men Asian gaming area. The retail concourse in this zone is highlighted by threads of glass lights that recall mountain dew on a spider web. “Woodland Moon” has a “cabin-in-thewoods” feel, says the architect, with rustic
finishes and elements that suggest dappled light filtering through a canopy of trees. And “Mountain Breeze” is distinguished by strong vertical elements and heavy materials, as well as design features that call to mind swaying trees, campfires and a mountaintop. The event center is located at the pinnacle, befitting its destination status. The natural theme, by turns subtle and spectacular, continues at the new 21-story Creek Tower, an upscale 420,000-squarefoot hotel. The lobby incorporates architectural elements such as native river cane, stonework and rich woodwork. Ceiling elements and columns are “symbolic of tree trunks,” says the architect. “A cozy fire lounge is nestled in the heart of the lobby, while the Lobby Café features a sculptural fixture reminiscent of a bonfire with ‘flame and smoke’ billowing up” to the second level check-in. New restaurants include Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and the Brio Tuscan Grill. The new Harrah’s Cherokee debuted to the public in March 2013. The Great Smokies resort, a popular regional destination, is now ready to welcome the world. —MARJORIE PRESTON OWNER: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians OPERATORS: Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise/Caesars Entertainment Corp. ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN:
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. GENERAL CONTRACTORS (CASINO EXPANSION, HOTEL): Turner Construction Co.,
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TRIBAL HOME BASE FOUR WINDS CASINO Dowagiac, Michigan
WHEN IT CAME TO THE MAJOR design decisions for the third casino of southwest Michigan’s Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation, the model already existed—the tribe’s first two Four Winds casinos, in Hartford and New Buffalo, Michigan. Those casino properties, designed by Memphis-based architectural firm Hnedak Bobo Group, called on the history and culture of the Pokagon band, which remained in the southern Great Lakes region when the bulk of the Potawatomi migrated westward in the 1830s. “We conducted a cultural investigation with the Pokagon client to learn the elements that tribal citizens wanted to incorporate into their gaming properties,” says Nathan Peak, lead designer and senior associate at Hnedak Bobo Group. “At the entrance is an ‘eternal flame’ hearth room for guest lounging, featuring a 360-degree circular fire pit covered by a copper hood, holding further symbolism of the tribe’s cultural heritage. The tribe was the first to use copper metal in tool and jewelry making.” 14
CASINO DESIGN 2013
Birch wood is another important material element to the Pokagon Band, leading designers to utilize the faux birch logs to custom-create a unique pit canopy for the central table gaming area. Floor patterns were designed to represent tribal basketweaving. Peak notes that the white birch wood above a table gaming area and stones used in the construction were from the area, which has long been home to many of the tribe’s 4,600 citizens. Featured artwork is also significant to tribal citizens and the area. “Given the integration of cultural motifs into the design, specialty fabricators and artisans were brought in to create the distinctive metalwork and artwork, and tribal artwork in the hearth room was provided by various Pokagon tribal members,” Peak says. “To ensure cultural authentication, the Pokagon Tribal Board developed the Pokagon Art Council to review all other specialty artwork created for the Four Winds Hartford Casino.” The result was a re-creation of the Pokagon motif used in Hartford and New
Buffalo, but on a smaller scale. The Four Winds Dowagiac Casino, which opened April 30, is a 27,000-square-foot casino with 305 slots and four table games. (By comparison, Four Winds New Buffalo has a 135,000-square-foot casino; Hartford, 52,000 square feet.) “The design by Hnedak Bobo Group was intended to give the Four Winds Dowagiac a look and feel similar to its larger sister casinos,” says Tom Topash, a tribal council member. “We had input on the design details, such as images of otters and water lilies. The designers really listened to us. It’s all there.” The location of the newest Four Winds, though, gives added significance to the cultural heritage incorporated into the design. For the Pokagon Band, Dowagiac is home. The band’s government offices are in Dowagiac, as well as many of its citizens. “People have asked, why build here?” says Tribal Chairman Matt Wesaw. “Why here? It’s home. We didn’t move here. This is home.” —FRANK LEGATO
OWNER: Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation ARCHITECT: Hnedak Bobo Group INTERIOR DESIGN: Hnedak Bobo Group CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORS:Christman Company and Kraus-Anderson Construction Company ENGINEERING: Classic Engineering, structural
engineer; PE Services, mechanical engineer; Wrightman Engineers, civil engineer
FILIPINO BREEZE SOLAIRE RESORT AND CASINO Manila Bay, The Philippines
IF EVER A CASINO DESIGN PROJECT reflected its surroundings, it’s the 1 millionsquare-foot Solaire Resort in Manila Bay. Opened last March, the casino resort carries the environment of its seaside location from the outside to the inside, according to Paul Steelman, principal of Steelman Partners, design architect for the project. “Solaire is a French word meaning ‘the breeze from the air,’ which clearly demonstrates the inspiration behind Solaire Resort and Casino,” Steelman says. Starting with the exterior design, the idea behind Solaire was to reflect “Manila Bay’s famed spectacular sunset and the breeze that it brings every day.” Steelman says the firm sought to create a timeless design for the beachfront building. “The podium exterior was designed with a crisp horizontality that provides shaded terraces and protected views,” he explains. “This is contrasted by the undulating articulation and verticality of the hotel tower. These visual and experiential contrasts are rendered most apparent along the porte-cochere as visitors are drawn across the entryway and under the mass of the tower.”
Inside, tropical and colonial inspirations create a look that is familiar to the Filipino, Steelman says. “From its mother-of-pearl inlaid posts, hardwood beams, trademark lattice lintels, blown-glass and steel dividers, and the botanical-printed carpets that echo Spanish flamenco shawls, the main area offers a glimpse of the country’s finest.” The lobby is graced with authentic, handcut crystal chandeliers and towering foliage décor. High-gloss abstract art by Matthew James adds to the effect in the reception area. Solaire has approximately 500 luxuriously appointed rooms, suites and bayside villas that offer sophistication in a comfortable setting. The Resort Villas range from 600 square meters to 1,000 square meters each, with a majestic view of the Manila Bay sunset. Each villa also includes its own pool, Jacuzzi, and putting green. The overall concept of the casino at Solaire Resort and Casino was delivered by the use of three finishes. The walls are a light cream color. Natural tan marble was used on the portals and floor. Highly dark wood lacquer veneer panels with accent metal trim bring reflection, depth and contrast to the space. The lavish casino took a stratified design approach where each market segment has its own entry/lobby, casino, restaurants and support space. The market segments are mass “local” gaming, “GEN Y” gaming, mass VIP
NEW AGE NIGHTCLUB HAKKASAN, MGM GRAND Las Vegas, Nevada
IF ANY ONE FACILITY can be said to redefine the nightclub scene in Las Vegas over the past few years, it’s Hakkasan at MGM Grand. Taking the place of one of the original Las Vegas nightclubs, Studio 54, Hakkasan has had an immediate impact on the nightclub market because of its style, amenities and departure from the traditional Vegas nightclub. With restaurants from Shanghai to Singapore to Dubai, Hakkasan has been making a name for itself in modern cuisine and design since it was founded in 2001 in London. The brand’s new Las Vegas restaurant and nightclub is one of its largest endeavors to date, both in scope—turning a 27,000-squarefoot, two-floor space into a five-level, 80,000square-foot venue—and because the location is its first nightclub. Hakkasan and Angel Management had a unique vision for the brand’s inaugural nightclub. The design philosophy focused on creating multiple experiences and involved steering away from the traditional Vegas glitz and sparkle and gave the space a more subdued, organic look that differed from other nightclubs in Vegas.
Designers worked with Hakkasan to select genuine building materials, such as real leather instead of vinyl seating, and natural stone, slate and granite for the walls, water features and floors. Other authentic craftsman materials were sourced from Asia, including the red lacquer, hand-carved Chinoiserie panels that mark the entry to Hakkasan’s Ling Ling Club and Lounge. Located on Level 3, the 2,300-square-foot Ling Ling Lounge includes a low, intimate ceiling, full-height stone-jetted wall panels that divide the space, a DJ booth and its own golden lit bar. To get to the main nightclub, guests pass through a small, alley-like entrance reminiscent of Hakkasan’s London roots. Upon entering the massive club, guests are surrounded by tiered banquet seating, which provides great visibility to the dance floor and DJ from any-
gaming and VIP gaming. Both lobbies are accentuated by numerous contemporary art pieces by Filipino artists. The Dragon Bar is the centerpiece of the lobby. There, an impressive dragon sculpture looks over the bar. It is made up of 1,500 individual crystal components, giving the place a regal appearance. The ceiling is painted with a gold finish, softening the look of the space.
OWNER: Bloomberry Resorts DESIGN ARCHITECT: Steelman Partners; local architect NS Incorporated Architecture; lighting design, Shop 12 INTERIOR DESIGN: DSAA CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTOR: D.M. Consunji Inc. PROJECT MANAGER: SIP International TOTAL INVESTMENT: $1.2 billion (estimated)
where in the club. Finally, a fifthfloor mezzanine hovers above the main club and gives guests a birdseye view of the fourth-level main club and pavilion. A curved, spider-web ceiling of LEDs installed in the nightclub houses computer-controlled panels, which can be lit to create a variety of stunning patterns and effects, including a whole room of color. The result is an innovative entertainment space that can be transformed at the flick of a switch. If you look at traditional Las Vegas clubs, they’ll be really hot for three to nine months, but after a year, they have to revamp so that they have a fresh, new and exciting look. Hakkasan was designed with enough depth to be a sustainable fixture on the Strip. —PATRICK ROBERTS
OWNER: Hakkasan Limited NIGHTCLUB REPRESENTATIVE: Angel
ARCHITECT: YWS Design and Architecture INTERIOR DESIGN: 212 Design, conceptual
design, nightlub; Gilles & Bossier, restaurant
BUILDER: McCarthy Building Companies, LLC TOTAL INVESTMENT: $115 million
ONLINE COMES TO LIFE POKERSTARS LIVE AT THE HIPPODROME London, England ONLINE POKER HAS in turn revived and harmed bricks-and-mortar casino poker rooms. The game has received more interest from online poker, but it allows players to play anywhere, so in some ways, it’s a wash. The operators of London’s chic Hippodrome casino came up with a way to combine the best of both worlds. In partnership with PokerStars, Hippodrome has introduced the PokerStars LIVE “gallery,” which is used as the casino’s poker room as well as a site for live PokerStars tournaments. Developed by MKV Design, the team imaginatively interpreted this interactive, online poker room into an exciting physical presence. MKV was tasked with developing a room that would embody the PokerStars online presence so it would be recognizable to website players. MKV took this idea a step further by creating a refined, pared-back ambience with a modern, tech-savvy style. The poker gallery is situated on a mezzanine overlooking the Hippodrome’s ground-floor gaming areas four stories below. Located in the heart of London’s entertainment scene, just by Leicester Square, the casino is housed within an iconic, historic building created by renowned theater architect Frank Matcham. It was essential that MKV’s design was sympathetic to the historical aspects of the original 16
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1900 structure, including the stepped, open-gallery spaces, which remind visitors of the site’s legendary provenance. It was here that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake made its U.K. debut, Julie Andrews launched her professional solo career, and Harry Houdini performed some of his final magic acts, among other notable milestones. Color and light psychology were also important considerations in the interior design. A muted palette of dark grays enables players to focus better on the tables, their hands and the action taking place. Gaming tables were custom-upholstered with silver-toned baize, and carpeting reminiscent of flannel tweed helps create a more sophisticated feel. Along the back wall, a grid composed of angled “fins” formed from sturdy, charcoal painted metal is backlit by a wall-to-wall, internally illuminated box fitted with LEDs. The glowing, ethereal light, which emanates from the wall, helps create a subtle allusion to the idea of the digital network of PokerStars’ virtual world. Shifts in color from yellow to red to blue have been programmed to cycle over the course of an hour, but can also be precisely timed by the operations team to create a variety of moods. Soft illumination from the ceiling soffit overhead is synchronized to adjust with that of the accent wall.
Another specification of the brief was that the use of the words “PokerStars” would be closely regulated. Therefore, MKV chose to weave associations with the brand into the design to reinforce the brand identity. Existing chairs have been re-upholstered with black leather subtly highlighted by the PokerStars emblem stitched into their backs with silver thread. This tone-on-tone effect, versus high-contrast embroidery, helps set the refined, urbane atmosphere envisioned by MKV. PokerStars LIVE has proved such a success that MKV’s concept is being rolled out to other new sites, including the poker room just launched at the Casino Gran Madrid. Dominic Barber, associate at MKV Design, explains, “Creating the blueprint for the PokerStars LIVE concept has been a 21st century twist on interior design. The idea of a tangible space mirroring a virtual world, rather than a website being modeled upon a physical destination’s brand identity, poses new opportunities for today’s designers. There are increasingly blurred lines between real-life and virtual environments, which opens up all sorts of creative possibilities and offers designers a wealth of inspiration.” —PATRICK ROBERTS OWNER: The Hippodrome Casino Ltd. and
ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER: MKV
NOBU HOTEL AND RESTAURANT Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
CAESARS PALACE IN LAS VEGAS has been known as a luxury spot on the Strip for decades, but one addition that opened this year has redefined the term for the resort. Nobu Hospitality, the venture formed by actor Robert De Niro, Meir Teper and famous fusion chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa to spread Nobu restaurants around the world, opened its first hotel in January. The Nobu Hotel and Restaurant is a 181-room luxury boutique property featuring three styles of chic contemporary suites ranging from 1,000 square feet to 4,350 square feet in size. To infuse a level of luxury one step up from the well-known extravagance of Caesars Palace and to do justice to the world’s first hotel to carry the worldrenowned Nobu brand, Matsuhisa and De Niro tapped award-winning New Yorkbased designer David Rockwell, principal of Rockwell Group. Rockwell had designed the first Nobu Restaurant, opened in New York in 1994. (De Niro had been instrumental in bringing Matsuhisa to New York, having been familiar with the chef ’s first U.S. restaurant in Beverly Hills.) The challenge to Rockwell was to create a design worthy of Nobu’s famous Japanese/Asian/South American fusion cuisine, which has been called by many the “best food in the world.” The designs embrace comfortable sim18
CASINO DESIGN 2013
plicity with natural materials and textures counter-balanced with outsized elements to reveal a touch of Vegas flair. The rooms and suites, designed with input from Matsuhisa and De Niro, include custom art by upand-coming Japanese artists that feature a mix of traditional prints and expressionist designs. The main focal point of each room is a feature wall that displays a custom “shodo”-style calligraphy. The bathrooms have teak fittings, stone tile and sleek modern fixtures. The oversized walk-in shower is made with traditional black Umi tiles and offers multiple showerheads and a teak bathing stool, a fixture of traditional Japanese bathhouses. Overall, the interiors of the hotel showcase natural materials fused with Japanese elegance. The real showcase spaces in the property are the suites—the Hakone, the Sake and the Nobu Penthouse suite, which was named one of the top suites in the world by Elite Traveller. The 10 Hakone suites draw inspiration from the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park just outside of Tokyo, famous for its hot springs and views of nearby Mount Fuji. The six Sake suites are inspired by traditional sake drums, and feature a spacious living room with billiard table, a separate entertainment/media room, high-definition television screens, an open entryway and centralized bar and pantry for relaxing or entertaining.
Co-owners Robert De Niro and Chef Nobu
The two Nobu Penthouse suites are bilevel spaces with two-story vaulted ceilings, with five bedrooms. Maxing out at 4,350 square feet, the Nobu Penthouse can configure up to five bedrooms, and feature double-height, teak panel screens that contour a curved staircase, a second-story terrace that overlooks the entire suite, a 90-inch flatpanel television screen that adorns an impressive two-story-high wall, a large living room with leather sofas, dining table with seating for six, billiard table, desk and large master bedroom suite. The suites present what Rockwell calls the perfect balance of fun and luxury, while integrating what is known as the “Nobu lifestyle.” To create the balance, Rockwell fused distinctive design elements with Eastern and Western influences into a visual and textural masterpiece.
OWNER: Nobu Hospitality (Principals, Chef
Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper); Caesars Entertainment ARCHITECT/DESIGNER: David Rockwell,
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $30 million
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HEART OF THE CITY Why urban casinos are the big trend in today’s casino market
The Provence in Philadelphia incorporates the 87-year-old building that once housed the Inquirer newspaper.
BY MARJORIE PRESTON
n 2011, when developer Bart Blatstein bought the 18-story offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper and its tabloid sister, the Philadelphia Daily News, his plan to redevelop the property—as a casino complex, no less—was described in the media as “audacious,” “impudent” and even “an Icarus-like dream.” And rightly so. The 87-year-old Beaux Arts-style building, with its distinctive clock tower and gold-tipped spire, is one block from Spring Garden Street, considered the border to North Philadelphia—arguably the most distressed neighborhood in town. For many urbanites, this onetime Brahmin bastion is now synonymous with decline and decay. Crime is such a concern that Temple University, in the heart of North Philadelphia, employs the largest university police force in the U.S. (and the third largest armed security force in the state). What was Blatstein thinking? For answers, it’s helpful to look to another tough Philly neighborhood called Northern Liberties. Since 2000, Blatstein has invested some $100 million around a former Schmidt’s Brewery to create the Piazza, a mixed-use commercial-residential development that has turned “No-Libs” from a shooting gallery into what the Philadelphia Business Journal has called “a sought-after address and destination.”
The potential of casino resorts to transform urban cores has made them increasingly appealing to city leaders. How do these “metro casinos” blend into the cityscape?
he idea once was unheard of—casinos as a path to urban renewal. But Philadelphia is just one of a score of U.S. cities turning to gaming halls as a way to revitalize depressed urban cores, add jobs, and not incidentally, stock municipal coffers with fresh tax revenues. And because these properties are often built on highly developed city blocks, requiring smaller foot-
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prints and limiting amenities, they are doing what their Vegas-style predecessors never dreamed of doing: partnering with local restaurants, hotels, spas and the like to create full-scale entertainment cooperatives. In rejecting the monolithic model of old, the urban-casino concept has the potential to truly enliven city centers and prove the truth of the axiom, “A rising tide floats all boats.” Few states have embraced gaming with as much enthusiasm—or speed—as Ohio. Since May 2012, when the Horseshoe Casino debuted in downtown Cleveland, three additional casinos have opened in the Buckeye State: Hollywood Toledo, Hollywood Columbus and Horseshoe Cincinnati. According to Rock Gaming, which partnered with Caesars Entertainment on the Horseshoe properties, in its first year the Cleveland casino has booked 61,000 room nights for its patrons at local hotels, boosting occupancy by 12.5 percent. And though the casino has several restaurants of its own—including the mandatory buffet— it also directs customers to a dozen eateries outside the casino where they can redeem reward-card points. The reward for restaurant owners: some $2.4 million in business. “It’s not the mall that killed Main Street and chased all the retailers away,” says Rock CEO Matt Cullen. “It’s very collaborative.” Unlike casinos of old—the gargantuan “mousetraps” designed to keep patrons inside—the Horseshoe Cleveland hosts summer concerts on an urban plaza, inviting patrons to step outdoors. At Detroit’s Greektown Casino, Rock Gaming—which recently bought a majority stake in the company from Caesars—has plans to occasionally “close down the road and make it a pedestrian mall with bands and activities, which would showcase the adjacent Greek restaurants,” Cullen says. The approach is in keeping with the new profile of city dwellers, he adds. “If you look at the demographic of who wants to live downtown, it’s young folks and empty nesters. They want the opportunity to walk to a ballgame or a restaurant, take the streetcar to a show, and then go gaming for an hour or so afterward.”
“If you look at the demographic of who wants to live downtown, it’s young folks and empty nesters. They want the opportunity to walk to a ballgame or a restaurant, take the streetcar to a show, and then go gaming for an hour or so afterward.” MATT CULLEN, CEO, ROCK GAMING
FITTING INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
hen planning a city-based casino, “It’s really necessary to be an urban planner of sorts, to try to connect a set of activities unrelated by ownership but related by use,” says architect Paul Steelman, of Steelman Partners in Las Vegas, which is part of Blatstein’s development team in Philadelphia. “We want the casino to become part of the urban structure, not something that sticks out in the urban structure.” In other words, don’t plop down a mini-Mirage in Chicago, Portland or Podunk. “People say everyone wants the Vegas experience, but you’ve failed as an architect in an urban center if you build something that looks, feels and acts like
Vegas,” says Steelman. “There are many ways to create beautiful entertainmentbased architecture in almost any style, so wherever you go you can create something in keeping with the urban district that also says, ‘This is a casino.’” The Empire Casino in London’s Leicester Square is one example: located at the site of the historic Empire Ballroom—once a Victorian music hall, later a lavish movie palace—the city’s largest casino “is a gorgeous piece of architecture done in a handsome, codeconforming way that is the center of entertainment in this district,” Steelman observes. In fact, though the Empire has seen many additions, subtractions and adds-on over the years, its ornate baroque entryway is almost indistinHorseshoe Cleveland, in the famous Higbee Building
“People say everyone
wants the Vegas experience, but you’ve failed as an architect in an urban center if you build something that looks, feels and acts like Vegas.
PAUL STEELMAN, ARCHITECT, STEELMAN PARTNERS
Detroit’s MotorCity Casino
guishable from the Empire of yore, which actually was mentioned in Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. “The architectural challenge in urban areas is to stand out and fit in at the same time,” says Cullen. “You want to make a statement, you want to have something people look at and say, ‘Wow, very cool,’ but it has to fit in and incorporate a lot of cues from the community you’re in. When we were trying to get sites in Cleveland and Cincinnati, we promised not to give them a Treasure Island with boats shooting out of the water.” Needless to say, the new “integrated resort”—a catchphrase that describes a property’s interdependence on local businesses—can dispense with many of the old rules for casino design, such as the day-for-night ambiance of dark rooms illuminated by gaudy neon. Design and architecture are “lighter, brighter, airier, with taller ceilings, with more brilliant carpets and more hardwood floors,” says Steelman. “It has a modern palatial effect, which is a key to bringing people back.” The prairie-wide, contiguous firstlevel casino floor, once a staple of the casino designer, is now strictly optional, says Steelman. “Look at the Solaire (in Manila). Technically it’s not one gaming floor, but broken into eight sections with pathways, some half-walls, some ceiling differentials and partial enclosures. That’s how it’s done in Macau, too, and it’s a trend that will be really apparent as we redesign and renovate.” 22
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RETROFIT, RECYCLE, REVIVE y choice or necessity, urban casino development is often redevelopment. Blatstein plans to reconstruct and build around a historic newspaper office. The Horseshoe Cleveland was built inside the former Higbee’s department store, a Beaux Arts masterpiece first built in 1931 and later immortalized in Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story. A sterling example of adaptive reuse is Detroit’s Motor City Casino, formerly the Wagner Baking Company, maker of Wonder Bread and Hostess cupcakes. The fortress-like brick structure was built in 1927 by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, who also designed the Roxy and Pantages theatres and the famous Peabody Hotel (known for its resident ducks, which parade daily from the penthouse to an outdoor fountain). But by the early 1990s, the building was a warehouse for Goodwill Industries. “It had been closed as a commercial building for decades, and it was a mess— water in the basement, and packed to the rafters with peoples’ hand-me-downs,” says Motor City CEO Gregg Solomon. “We could have started from scratch somewhere, but we’ve been here long enough to understand what it was that was iconic in the public mind about this building: there’s a big smokestack you can see for miles, and parapets, and the edifices on the corner of Grand River and Temple streets. There were a lot of terra cotta inserts that over the years had fallen off and broken, but we were fortunate enough to find the original blueprints for
the building, because we wanted to be fully vested in what Detroit used to be about and what it could be in the future.” The result, says Solomon, is a “futureretro concept” that took its cues from a line of concept cars designed in the Motor City during in the Post War World War II era of the late 1940s and early 1950s. For a hint of the design aesthetic, think Futurama, a GM-sponsored exhibit that was mounted at the 1939 World’s Fair; Disney’s Tomorrowland, which first opened in 1955; and the Jetsons cartoon series of the 1960s. “The cars had bubble canopies and tailfins and looked like jet engines, because a moment before, these guys were building aircraft engines for the war effort; now they were working on cars again, and they had had a taste of what they called the aerospace movement,” says Solomon. That Atomic Age influence is evident in the Motor City, which includes futuristic elements like an undulating wave-shaped roofline and countless subtle, almost subliminal nods to Motown’s manufacturing history, such as hubcap-shaped silver upholstery buttons, repeated impressions of a ’57 Cadillac grill in the wallpaper, and bench seating inspired by a Ford Thunderbird. “You would have to be pretty observant to see it,” says Solomon. “Almost nobody ever figures it out.” But traces of the old bread factory remain, and that’s by design. The brick bullnose of the original Wagner Bakery anchors one corner of the building, with the 17-story tower “paying homage to the grand era of Detroit,” Solomon says. The project was not without its challenges: the bakery façade had started to
A DOWNTOWN REBORN?
ohegan Sun is one of a half-dozen bidders vying for Philadelphia’s second casino license. The tribe has already won praise for its plan, which would site a gaming hall at one of the historic city’s most historic intersections: Eighth and Market streets, once home to four grand old department stores, Gimbel Bros., Lit Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothier and Wanamaker’s. Like many once-bustling downtowns, the district fell on hard times starting in the ’60s: Lit Brothers closed in 1977; Strawbridge’s and Wanamaker’s were sold off; and in 1986, after 92 years in business, Gimbels fell to the wrecking ball. If the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority wins out over its rivals in the market, the parking lot where Gimbels once reigned will one day house a casino called Market8. Brian Davis is principal of JCJ Architecture, which has partnered with Mohegan Sun on the project. He says Market8’s design echoes and updates the architecture of the surrounding cityscape, from the Colonial Georgian construction of Independence Hall to the Second Empire style of City Hall and “a great many turn-of-the-century and mid-century progressive commercial buildings, both institutional and commercial.” “But it’s not just the existing physical characteristics, but the culture,” Davis adds. “This is a progressive city, not embedded in its past and trying to resurrect it. But at the same time we’ve looked to the existing urban fabric to establish certain proportions, rhythms and cornice lines, and wrapped that in a progressive contemporary resort, something that looks to the future.” Market8 as proposed lifts the gaming floors above the street level, which is dedicated to retail, restaurants and other attractions, all tenant-owned. “It’s important that the building itself interact at the ground floor with the street,” says Colin Jones, of the Goldenberg Group, the developer for the project. “It’s meant to be open and inviting, so that people walking by feel like they’re being drawn in.” Outdoor seating will also enhance the interplay between the interior and exterior environments. As an example of the vertical resort, Market8 includes “soaring spaces that lure and inspire,” says Davis, leading visitors from the entranceway and first-floor restaurants and bars to the grand lobby and upward via “experiential escalators” that wind in a triangular configuration around an interactive digital screen (Davis calls it “the 21st century version of a chandelier”). The casino floor occupies the second and third floors; the fourth floor will house ultra-lounges, clubs, more dining and a 2,000-capacity concert hall that can also serve as a banquet space. In April, the Philadelphia Design Advocacy Group gave Market8 high marks for its potential to revitalize the neighborhood. It “would knit together the historic district, the Convention Center and the retail and business districts of Center City, connecting the tourist city to the commercial city,” said the DAG report. “And it would catalyze development on Chestnut East and Market East.” Davis says the development could return Eighth and Market to its former luster as “one of the most vibrant commercial districts in the country. That’s what was lost when downtown areas were abandoned,” he says. “We’re bringing that back in spades.”
CASINO DESIGN 2013
tilt out over the street, and “we used steel supports to tie back the whole building,” says Solomon. Lead-painted surfaces had to be removed, as well as underground fuel oil storage tanks. Another problem: asbestos, once used to insulate the hot ovens. “We would open a wall and the next thing you know, you had to clear the whole crew out and bring in the guys in the moon suits, testing to make sure it’s not something bad,” says Solomon. “An old building is a double-edged sword, but it saves a huge amount of energy if you reuse existing materials. We tried to make it as energy-efficient as possible.” In addition to the Motor City, IH Gaming owner Marian Ilitch, who made her fortune as the co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza, also owns the Grand Victoria riverboat casino in Elgin, Illinois, at the site of the former Elgin Watch Factory. The factory is long gone, but the property’s land-based pavilion is characterized by a giant clock hanging from the atrium ceiling. The architecture was inspired by the Craftsman period and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. “If you’re going to be in Elgin, be in Elgin,” says Solomon, a veteran of the Las Vegas gaming scene. “If you’re going to be in Tunica, be in Tunica. But don’t try to run a Las Vegas game here. Hey, we’re from Las Vegas, so don’t show us how it’s done. You have to get wrapped head about what is cool to the people here and what they want.”
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE ut not all the old rules are subject to change, says interior designer Floss Barber of Floss Barber Inc. “Gamblers and slot players like certain configurations that aren’t about aesthetics; there are component parts to a casino that a designer knows that direct the flow of the patron, such as an easy entrance with no barriers, the player’s club very close to the entrance so you can capture that person and sign them up, clustered table games so people can jump from one to the other, and a roulette table near the cashier,” so if someone wins big, they may try their luck one more time before cashing out. The table game area should be intimate and foster camaraderie among players; the slots are more solitary, for players who like to choose a “lucky niche,” Barber says. “It’s the idiosyncrasies of the player that get communicated in the design.” That said, Barber notes, there is a trend away from grandiosity and toward natural finishes and elements, particularly in the
urban casino. “As we become more digital, people are freaking out; they’re looking for the natural elements of air, space and light, be it in a restaurant, hotel or college space, and it would be natural for it to move into casinos,” she says. If an operator elects to install wood floors to replace the gaudy multicolored carpets that hide so much dirt, they would have to be super-durable to withstand 24-hour traffic with virtually no down time for thorough maintenance. A trend that may have seen its day, except possibly in Las Vegas, is outrageously themed décor. “I worked many years ago at a casino in Atlantic City where the highroller suites were designed to look like something out of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, Marco Polo—all these bizarre fantasies,” says Barber. “The traveling public in general has become much more sophisticated.” Speaking of Atlantic City, Paul Steelman says casino operators who built there now wish they had never built insular buildings that “walled off the Boardwalk. Now they all say, ‘Why did we do that?’” Steelman says. “Why didn’t we worship the Boardwalk?”
Horseshoe Casino near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. And a casino could soon be in the works for the Greater Boston area. Steelman, who is the architect for Blatstein’s Philadelphia casino proposal, says the developer’s “Provence” resort project, if approved by legislators, could turn a couple of dismal city blocks into a Parisian-style thoroughfare and a former newspaper office “into a grand hotel like the Plaza in New
York, the Georges V in Paris or the Connaught in London.” “The whole idea is to take a magic wand, wave it over this area and crack it open,” says Steelman—essentially reconnecting the forsaken community to the lively Center City business district and extending it to Broad Street. And Steelman, for one, thinks it can happen. Even in North Philly.
BEYOND THE OBVIOUS
asinos have been held up as economic drivers for cities that have seen their downtowns empty out and residents flee to the suburbs. As more people consider returning to the city—those young working adults and older retired people— center-city gaming halls have benefits beyond increased tax revenues, says Rock Gaming’s Cullen. “Sure, the tax revenue is a big benefit to the community, but if that’s all you’re looking for, you’ve missed out on other opportunities” that may be even more enduring. “We have worked diligently to make sure we emphasize local and WBE and MBE projects,” he says. “We committed that 90 percent of the hires would be from within the metropolitan statistical area in those communities, and thousands of new jobs are being made available. We’re partnering with retailers, partnering with hotels. “The tax revenue is very important and a huge revenue source in Detroit in and the state of Ohio, but we weren’t gaming guys interested in the revitalization of cities,” he says. “We’re business guys, entrepreneurs and urbanists that happen to be in gaming.” The list is long of cities that now host the new urban brand of casino, and it is expected to grow. Next year, Rock Gaming and Caesars Entertainment will open the
Twin Arrows slot area
BUILDING AN ENTERPRISE The Navajo Nation’s entry into the gaming industry was done carefully and cautiously. The result has been four facilities that serve the needs of the nation without depending upon or paying outsiders to lead the way, with employment ramping up and revenue flowing in. BY ROGER GROS
CASINO DESIGN 2013
he reservation of the Navajo Nation is the largest in the United States, stretching across more than 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. And with 250,000 citizens, it also has one of the largest native populations of any Indian tribe in the U.S. But like all American tribes, the Navajos are still struggling more than 100 years after decades of war against the U.S. government have come to an end. Poverty, homelessness and illness have been a constant companion to the nation. But the culture, family and religion of the Navajos have sustained them for all this time, which was one of the reasons the nation didn’t race to join the gaming industry when it was introduced in Arizona and New Mexico during the early 1990s. Twice, in 1994 and ’97, Navajo voters rejected an amendment that would have legalized gaming, fearing crime, alcoholism and other ills would increase on the reservation. But in 2004, a third vote was the charm and gaming was approved on the nation’s lands. It was just in the nick of time, because the closing of the Black Mesa Coal Mine and a tribal ban on uranium mining in 2005 resulted in higher unemployment among the nation’s citizens and a steep drop in tribal revenues. Then-President Joe Shirley began to advocate for the quick introduction of casino gaming, but tribal members were still concerned about the business risks that came along with the industry. LoRenzo Bates, a Navajo councilman and chairman of the tribal budget committee, explains why the tribe was a bit reticent to jump into gaming without understanding the consequences. “We were concerned about the amount of money it would take to get into it and where the money would come from,” he says. “We wanted to
All photos courtesy of Friedmutter Group
know how many jobs it would create and the other opportunities that are associated with gaming in terms of the nation’s revenue distribution.” Negotiations were held with a management company, as well with banks that might fund the projects, but Bates says the council was still not satisfied. “All of those issues were taken into consideration, and council established guidelines that must be present if we were going to get into gaming,” he says. “It narrowed down the ways we would finance it. Because we were the new kid on the block and because it would be a greenfield project, there was an anticipation that an outside source or funding agent would be charging a lot of interest. Up until that time, it was all on paper. It was completely projections.” Derrick Watchman is now CEO of the Navajo Gaming Enterprise. A former banker, Watchman was mentored by Robert Winter, an experienced gaming executive the tribe brought in to run the nation’s gaming business, and Watchman took over as CEO earlier this year. He says there were two big mandates in the beginning. “We were supposed to create revenue for the nation and jobs for the Navajo citizens,” he says. “And that continues to be our goal. I’m pleased with our progress, even though we’ve had to deal with the economic downturn and the other financial issues that still persist today. We’ve been more than holding our own.” For the Navajo Nation, the decision to self-fund was an important one. “The nation decided to make an investment in gaming, rather than taking the money from Wall Street,” says Bates. “We decided to use our own money as an investment to accomplish the goals and opportunities associated with gaming. That money would come back to the Navajo Nation rather than going to some bank or investors.” The money comes back with interest—14 percent—which is higher than they may have gotten on Wall Street. “But it all comes back to the nation,” says Bates. In addition to keeping money on the reservation, there were other important issues to consider if you borrow money from banks. “We sat down with our economic advisers and came up with a financing plan that worked for both sides, our gaming enterprise and the Navajo Nation,” says Bates. “That was a decision that needed to be made. Do we allow our gaming enterprise to borrow the money at a rate that would be satis-
factory, and then you add the pieces of the puzzle, like collateral that these institutions require? But the most important thing to the Navajo Nation was what would happen in the event of a dispute. Where are we going to go? State court? Federal court? The prevailing position at the time was state court, and that was not going to be acceptable to the Navajo Nation.” In addition to funding the projects themselves, the Navajo in 2006 decided against hiring a management company to run the gaming business. Navajo leaders hired Winter, an experienced Indian gaming executive, to get the operation off the ground, but more importantly, to mentor and teach Navajo how to do the jobs necessary to run it themselves. Watchman says it was a smart move. “The nation did an RFP and had a lot of offers to manage the business,” he says. “Eventually, they questioned why we needed to pay 30 percent of the profits to an outside company, when you can hire a team, led by Bob Winter, that was cheaper and more effective. I’m glad they took that position.” Winter, who helped the legendary Mickey Brown build, operate and grow Foxwoods in Connecticut, understands that tribal gaming works best when the tribe is running it. “His goal was to mentor Navajo members,” says Watchman, who took over for Winter in January. “He loves the nation and wanted to make gaming work for us.” Bates says Winter has been very effective in allowing the nation to reach its revenue and employment goals. “We didn’t want to forfeit any of the revenue or any of the control to an outside entity,” says Bates. “Bob Winter had decades of experience, and with the people that he was mentoring, the nation was comfortable with allowing him to run the enterprise.”
rom the start, the primary discussion in Navajo council meetings was where the casinos would be located. Consideration was given to taking land into trust in a more populated area, but Bates says that was rejected because of the length of time it would take to get all approvals. “So we chose a site for the first casino on nation land adjacent to Interstate 40,” he says. “There weren’t any other casinos very close to there, so we believed it would be a success.” The tribe’s first casino, Fire Rock, located in the nation’s Church Rock chapter in New Mexico, just east of Gallup,
Northern Edge Casino
The leaders of the Leupp, Birdsprings and Tolani Lake Chapters continue to collaborate with Navajo Gaming on ensuring the development of the Twin Arrows area has positive and sustainable long-term economic benefits for the Navajo Nation and region. Working with all the stakeholders allows us to better showcase our culture while developing a framework for future community growth and success.
—Walter Phelps, Chairman, Navajo Hopi Land Commission/Leupp Chapter Council Delegate
proved to be just that. It became popular with locals and with travelers along the highway, pumping money back into tribal coffers and giving the council confidence that other casinos could be built. Watchman says a lot of research was done before sites were selected. “When you look at the studies and the information that was put together, the ideal locations were near the borders of the reservation, where larger towns were located.” The Navajo Nation is divided into 110 individual chapters, similar to counties in a U.S. state. Competition to host a casino in each chapter was fierce, and Bates says the council used the same criteria that it used in the Fire Rock decision—that any new casino would bring as much revenue to the nation as possible. “We really just did the math,” says Bates. “Even though the area for our second casino was more remote, it was still 20 minutes from the nearest competition.” The second casino is a Class II facility, Flowing Water Navajo Casino in the Tse Daak aan Chapter of Navajo Nation, near Shiprock, New Mexico. It was clearly a smaller facility, as befits the market. The third casino, Northern Edge, is located near Farmington, New Mexico, with an 80,000-square-foot casino offering 750 slots and a dozen table games. Fire Rock was designed by JCJ Architects of Phoenix, in a joint venture with Navajo-owned Dyron Murphy Architects of Albequerque. Dyron Murphy was the sole designer of Flowing Water, the second Navajo casino. The third and fourth casinos, Northern Edge and Twin Arrows, were designed by Friedmutter Group of Las Vegas. The Navajo knew there was going to be a major casino on the western side of the reservation from the start. “We did a lot of economic and market analysis before we built anything,” explains Watchman. “In those studies, the Flagstaff area was deemed the ideal location for a casino hotel with all the amenities. The economic modeling suggested a hospitality enterprise would work best. And since the reservation ends 20 miles east of Flagstaff, a destination resort at that location was the best approach. We have 1,100 slot machines and 90 rooms at the current time, with 118 more planned, as well as meeting and convention space and restaurants. We have the related amenities that are important to a resort, as well. Since there are a very limited about of hotel rooms in that area, we believe we can tap into the tourist market for visitors to Arizona and Navajo country.” A spa will open next year, and a golf course is planned for one of the future phases of Twin Arrows.
hile all four Navajo casinos contain references to the nation’s culture and history in their architecture, the last two truly reflect a maturing of that idea. “In each location, the architecture reflects the Navajo culture as it applies to that area,” says Bates. The Friedmutter Group has vast experience in Indian Country, but for the Navajos, special attention had to be paid to the traditions and culture. “From the very beginning, the Navajo wanted cultural elements built into the project,” says Albie Colotto, director of design for Freidmutter. “They wanted to weave their story and their path through the architecture and have it come out in small story lines. They wanted to be able to explain their story to visitors, especially tribal members.” Suzanne Couture, senior interior designer at Friedmutter, was responsible for the interiors at both Northern Edge and Twin Arrows. “We went and spent time with tribal elders and people who were helping to educate us on tribal culture and traditions,” she says. “They wanted to assign different parts of their story to each property. “At the Northern Edge property, they wanted to tell the story of the ‘Hero Twins,’ with references back to that story in their mythology. At Twin Arrows, 28
CASINO DESIGN 2013
Casino floor at Twin Arrow (below) Interior of Northern Edge Casino
a rainbow, which is how people travel through the Navajo worlds; it’s how you get to the next world.” The outside of the building is a sweeping pattern that represents the wind and blends in with the surrounding dramatic high-desert landscape. “The hotel tower is just a large-scale weave pattern,” says Colotto. “Weaving is very important in their culture, and it’s one of their high arts in which they express themselves.” “We wanted the landscape and the building to be seamless.” Navajo art extends through the hotel rooms, where the story is more about native craftsmanship than mythology, and the hotel is spilling over with Navajo art. “There’s artwork throughout the hotel that was designed by Navajo artists specifically for spaces we designed to showcase this art,” says The work is not over. Now that the gaming properties are Couture. launched, we will continue to oversee the business growth and Watchman says the nation is considering development to ensure long-term economic opportunities for installing a Navajo museum at the property. “At Twin Arrows, we wanted to offer more of our people through the gaming enterprise. We will also continue a Navajo cultural experience,” he explains. “Being to seek opportunities—like the Navajo Beef Program—to so close to I-40, there is really no Navajo experistrengthen other Navajo businesses and families through the ence there. We have a very nice museum up at goods and services required of Navajo Gaming. (Navajo capital) Window Rock, but nothing that captures the I-40 traffic.” —Delegate Katherine Benally, chairwoman of the Resources and Development Even the positioning of the buildings reflects Committee that is the oversight committee for the nation’s enterprises Navajo beliefs. “All the buildings face east, bring light they wanted to focus on the ‘Four Worlds,’ which is their creation and life into the building, another part of story and how the Navajo came to be.” the Navajo culture,” says Couture. “On At Northern Edge, a large mural represents a Navajo constellathe west side is the convention center. tion, and the entry floor features a “dry painting” that uses several The west is the direction of family gathnatural materials including white shell, representative of “White erings and celebrations, so we tried to Shell Woman,” a Navajo legend. incorporate Navajo culture and tradition The casino ceiling at Northern Edge is a representation of the into every element of the buildings.” Navajo tradition of weaving, and of “Spider Woman,” who taught Colotto says working with the tribe Navajos how to weave. Custom chandeliers were created to incorwent very smoothly, with an assist from porate the Navajo beliefs of the four sacred mountains, four sacred technology. directions, and four sacred stones. “We use a computer program that That theme is carried through in Twin Arrows, the tribe’s first allows us to faithfully reproduce what we are planning to design, so casino resort, with dramatic re-telling of the nation’s mythology via there were no surprises on either side,” he explains. “They knew the architecture and design. and could visualize exactly what we were planning to build. In fact, “The ‘four worlds’ myth is a very vertically oriented story where many of them have commented about how much the final product people move through the four different worlds,” says Couture. “We was almost exactly what we had showed them.” used this description to build a chandelier in the reception area, JBA Consulting Engineers was the engineering group chosen by with four different color circles to represent the four worlds, each the tribe to be responsible for the mechanical, plumbing and elecrepresented by a different color. trical design of the project. J.J. Wisdom, the senior project manag“We also used elements of the wind, which is a strong element er, says JBA was very sensitive to the tribe’s vision for the property. in Navajo culture, on the exterior of the property, and in chande“Our involvement started at the onset of the project, assisting liers, carpet patterns and ceiling elements. Different spaces have the architect with space planning to include required MPE spaces, different offshoots of these main stories.” continued with the design and coordination of MPE systems to In the center of the casino is a high-limit video poker pit that produce construction documents and completed with construction contains exclusively WMS machines. administration that included monthly site visits during the con“The center of the casino,” says Couture, “is like a portal into struction of the project,” he says. the fifth world. While we’ve been through four worlds and live in Wilson says exterior visual of the property was very important the world now, we’re always moving toward another world. The to the tribe. metallic drapes, with color changes and lighting, symbolizes grow“We worked with the architect to minimize the visual impact of the ing reeds that grow up toward future worlds. The colors symbolize MPE systems so as to not interfere with the cultural themes presented
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inside and outside of the building,” he says. “Additionally, the MPE design is energy-efficient to minimize the impact to the environment.”
Finding the Future
he Navajo blueprint for entering the gaming industry wasn’t without its bumps and bruises. The initial starts and stops about management companies and finances were soon overcome, and later concerns about competition at all four of its casinos have largely been contained. The next hurdle faced by the Navajos is renewing a gaming compact with the state of New Mexico, which expires in 2015. At press time, progress was being made and each side hoped to get it completed early in 2014. But as for any future casinos, Bates has one rule. “Let’s get this $200 million loan paid off before we start talking about that,” he laughs. But no one could deny that the nation’s gaming business has met and exceeded expectations. While there is no individual disbursement to tribal members—“That wouldn’t be possible because of so many members,” says Bates—the opportunities for employment and advancement are evident. “Many of the management team at Twin Arrows got their start at Fire Rock or one of
there. We’re 20 minutes from Flagstaff and a mile from the highway, which are just some of the things we have to surmount.” Watchman says that because of the small population in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, the tribe is looking farther out for new customers. “In our area, because of our demographics, we probably have satisfied most of the gamers in our market,” he says. “To grow our revenue, we’re going to have to reach out to other areas like Alberqueque and Phoenix. We’ve been talking with other areas of the nation, such as the parks and recreation, about how to develop other amenities to attract more tourism to the reservation. If we can develop synergies with the tourism market, we’ll be much more effective.”
the other casinos,” says Watchman. “More than 80 percent of our employees are tribal members.” Revenue distribution is the repsonsiblity of the tribal council, he says. “There have been some requests to have more casinos placed in specific chapters, and the council is still working through that,” he explains. “But with four casinos located in four different chapters, it gives plenty of employment opportunities for all Navajo. Our charge is provide revenue to the nation, which in turn decides how to distribute it.” As for competition, Bates says the tribe is learning as they go. “We learned about competition at Northern Edge,” he says. “We’re doing the same at Twin Arrows. We’ve never been in the resort business, so we do have challenges casinodesignmagazine.com
Like most of society, the technology revolution is turning casino design on its head. When you can bet from home, or use a mobile device to wager or roam anywhere in a casino resort complex and make a bet, what is the casino floor going to look like in the future? In the annual Q&A with casino design experts, our loyal correspondent, Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, the president and CFO of Lifescapes International, has convened nearly a dozen experts in the field of casino design to discuss this issue. As always, Brinkerhof-Jacobs has lined up the best of the best to offer their opinions on remote gambling, casino renovation, the size of the gaming floor, casino themes and the non-gaming amenities that are so important in today’s world.
2013 PANEL OF EXPERTS Diego Alessi, principal and senior designer, Lifescapes International, Inc. Dike Bacon, principal and business development leader, Hnedak Bobo Group Leonard A. Bergman, president and CEO, Bergman, Walls & Associates DeRuyter O. Butler, executive vice president of architecture, Wynn Design & Development John Cannito, chief operating officer, the PENTA Building Group Brett Ewing, director of resort development Las Vegas, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. Janice Feldman, president and chief executive officer, JANUS et Cie Brad Friedmutter, founder and CEO, Friedmutter Group Thomas O’Connor, principal, SOSH Architects Paul Steelman, CEO, Steelman Partners Nick Schoenfeldt, vice president, Thalden Boyd Emery Architects Full bios on page 36
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How is the technology revolution, which already allows players to bet via a tablet device anywhere in the hotel complex, impacting the design of new casinos or redesigns? ALESSI: Technology has changed how design is approached. The landscape architectural world has seen a substantial evolution in wireless communication enabling complex and dynamic combinations in audio/visual, lighting and entertainment attractions, including water features, event and public venues. A full “show” is now more attainable, manageable and specific to both the customer trends and to the objectives of our clients. BERGMAN: For architects, building information modeling has forever changed design and construction. Although increasing the time it takes to turn design into construction documents because of the steep learning curve, it has decreased construction time and dollars because of the fact that through the design process and model-building, many potential unforeseen problems have already been worked out before the construction phase begins. Creating 3D visualization models using SketchUp and incorporating 3D models created with Autodesk Revit helps our clients to better understand and visualize design intent. BUTLER: Our gaming facilities do not currently offer gaming access in nongaming areas, nor do we plan to in the future. We do not feel this is a customer preference and without actual experience, do not feel this is advantageous for operators either. EWING: We’re talking to clients about the “Casino of the Future” and how 10 and 20 years from now, casinos will look very different than they do today. Tablets are meeting the mobility and personalization demands of consumers, but the desire to gather and be around people (entertainment) will keep casinos a vital part of the experience. New casinos or redesigned casinos can start looking at ways to incorporate more tech-friendly and Net Generation-friendly spaces, be they smaller zones, lounges, or dens that are part of the larger gaming floor but provide a different kind of gaming environment to entice the younger players and the more tech-savvy crowd.
O’CONNOR: The technology revolution, in terms of design, is definitely contributing to more fluid and open floor layouts due to the permeation of gaming outside of the casino floor. Our team anticipates seeing a need for more lounge-type atmospheres adjacent to support services. In addition, there will be more of a connection to food and beverage outlets and alternate forms of player support services, since the relatively new technology will demand it. SCHOENFELDT: Interestingly enough, the “typical slot gamer,” a lady in her late 50s to early 70s, has not responded well to tablet gaming. It has appealed to the younger crowd, but they are not the biggest demographic we see in our facilities. The gaming floor experience is a bit entrenched with the older crowd. These guests tend to be more centered on the buffet, spa and specialty dining. Our younger guests who use tablets for gaming tend more to the sports bar, nightclubs and quick-serve venues. They prefer to spend time doing these more recreational activities and gaming in addition instead of the traditional “gaming floor” activity and breaking for recreation. The casino property itself is seeing an influx of options for food service, and broader-based amenities. STEELMAN: We don’t want to reveal too much, but just to give you a hint… The buildings and the attractions will be more interactive, allowing for a more socially entertaining experience. How important will renovation, redesign and rebranding be to casino owners in the future? BACON: Casino owners are constantly faced with the challenge of competitive positioning in their respective markets. We have a client that has implemented an innovative new gaming experience called “Immersive Gaming” onto a portion of
their existing casino floor. The entire space is specially designed to accommodate this technology. It’s a very new multi-faceted physical and social-media type gaming experience that has the potential to influence a lot of floor renovation in the future. It’s presently beta testing, so time will tell how successful the idea becomes.
EWING: These will be very important as the younger generations (i.e., the NetGen) mature. The owners need to address this changing market. There are a couple of properties on the Las Vegas Strip that are attempting to do this. We believe the process of redesigning and rebranding could become easier in the future. Imagine, for instance, walls and
redesign, and rebranding have always been an “ Renovation, important part of design and construction on the Las Vegas
Strip. Recently, this trend seems to be even more important as casino owners look for new ways to make the highest and best use of existing assets.
—John Cannito, chief operating officer, the PENTA Building Group
BUTLER: Renovation and evolution of new technologies for customer benefit or in response to industry trends is extremely important as new efficiencies are introduced through technology and customer interests and trends change. Redesign and rebranding is not so important, as redesign typically happens to compensate for shortcomings or becoming outdated and rebranding is important if the customer loses identity with the establishment. Frequently, reinforcing and enhancing a well-known and highly regarded brand is more important than rebranding for the sake of rebranding. CANNITO: Renovation, redesign, and rebranding have always been an important part of design and construction on the Las Vegas Strip. Recently, this trend seems to be even more important as casino owners look for new ways to make the highest and best use of existing assets. We are currently seeing this now with one of our projects, the SLS Hotel and Casino Las Vegas. This project is an excellent example of a refresh and renovation to an existing property, the old Sahara Hotel and Casino, which will make a significant impact on the Las Vegas Strip.
floors that move and morph (physically or digitally) into new, different spaces or gaming devices that come to you rather than the other way around. That world is a ways away yet, but possible and perhaps necessary to capture the attention of younger consumers always on the lookout for the next new thing. FELDMAN: It is critical to stay on or better yet, ahead of the curve. Design is all. Execution is critical. Also, to answer this correctly, one has to know the location of the casino… Is it in E.U., North America or Asia? In North America there is already somewhat of a known entity and brand awareness. However, there is a lot of competition for newness to stimulate spending and get people to the resort/casino, in person. In Asia it is a brand new and expansive market, so everything is more or less new and it is shaking the world with what is being spent. There are millions of new users in the category of potential new clients. FRIEDMUTTER: Renovations will continue to be important in order to maintain a competitive business advantage. Renovations can include the revamping, or rebranding, of existing gaming and casinodesignmagazine.com
non-gaming amenities to better suit the market and guest demands. At the same time, renovations are critical to maintain an efficient, clean and fresh environment. Operationally, marketing campaigns and player rewards can dictate the need to create additional spaces, or environments that can be added to generate additional revenue. How realistic does a casino owner have to be when deciding how large the casino must be? Will the gaming floor be made somewhat irrelevant by the ability to gamble anywhere on property? BERGMAN: The casino floor is not irrelevant at all, but we are in a transitional period. While many older players still prefer to game traditionally, younger gamers tend to enjoy the opportunity to play while hanging out or engaged in another activity. The challenge is to plan five to 10 years forward when conceiving the space, so that adjustments can be made as the customer demographic transitions. FELDMAN: I believe there should and can be multiple ways to get the client to the property (casino). Casinos will be coming up with all kinds of new ways to entice, provoke, and stimulate ways for people to “pay for play.” The greatest floors at casinos have a vibe that attracts a certain type of player, and it does create a competitive atmosphere, which I imagine most bettors/gamblers like. However, do not forget about those whose imagination may like alternatives. FRIEDMUTTER: The number of gaming devices and the social aspects of gaming will continue to drive the size of the casino floor. As mobile devices continue to play an important role in the gaming experience, and more and more electronic table games replace traditional games, less physical space may be required for the gaming floor. However, the social aspects of gaming will continue to drive the design, and the size of the floor will be driven by accommodating a greater number of people and players to create the excitement and energy within the property.
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As mobile devices continue to play an important role “in the gaming experience, and more and more electronic table games replace traditional games, less physical space may be required for the gaming floor. —Brad Friedmutter, founder and CEO, Friedmutter Group
O’CONNOR: The casino floor will still remain the hub of activity. It is the center for social interaction, and provides entertainment value for guests looking for a night out—just as movies on demand have not replaced going out to the theater. “Bigger is better” has been replaced by “varied and more interactive is better.” The casino floor may reduce in size as an everchanging mix of lounge areas, food-andbeverage outlets and other non-gaming venues immerse themselves into the property, but it will not lose its importance. SCHOENFELDT: Now more than ever in the past, a casino needs to be “right-sizing” the casino floor. This is not only due to the advent of tablet gaming, but also early indications that the gaming market is starting to saturate. Chuck Moran (president of Delaware North Companies) said it best: “No casino ever failed for under-building.” Right size, right schedule, right amenities and right level of detail are now the mantra that everyone in the gaming industry should be following. The casino floor is a dynamic, ever-changing animal. In the next 10 years as the demographic of our guests changes, the floor will need to respond as well.
STEELMAN: I think it is important for any casino to be sized to look full but maximize the market potential. As long as gaming remains a social event in which the customer wants to “show off,” the casino will always be the center of the action. Is casino theming returning? Will properties have to have a theme or a concept to attract players who now can gamble anywhere? ALESSI: In my opinion, theme is driven by the client’s target market, region, architectural influence and financial feasibility. Owners and operators will most likely have to consider what creates community in the gaming world and would draw them out for the opportunity to interact with others who share their interest and passion for gaming. BACON: Design “theme” or concept will always be an important element of virtually any entertainment experience, and has never really left. The need to differentiate or clarify in a competitive gaming and resort environment has never lessened. Theme or concept can keep an entertainment destination top-of-mind. You’re always trying to win the battle for
the customerâ€™s attention. Theme can also be a train wreck if not executed properly. Timelessness and sense of purpose are critical to an effective solution. We always try to encourage our Indian gaming clients to take advantage of the unique fact that they can legitimately celebrate, in meaningful ways, their heritage and culture in the design of their facilities. BUTLER: We are not seeing an interest or a demand to return to theming. Theming can be seen as a driver of redesign, as theming gets old much faster than a more universal good design. CANNITO: Casino theming has always been an important consideration in casino design, and this is likely to continue as new technology allows players to gamble anywhere in the casino. Theming is an effective way to attract players and, most importantly, enhance the overall guest experience. The ability for players to gamble anywhere through new technology is an opportunity for casinos to further enhance that experience and expand gam-
ing to traditionally non-gaming areas such as pools and restaurant venues. FRIEDMUTTER: Casino theming hasnâ€™t gone away. In fact, theming is a key element of â€œbranding.â€? Theming establishes and supports multiple branded properties, and as the brands evolve, so must the interior design, marketing and games in support of the brand. For new properties, there must be a strong vision or marketing objective to guide the â€œdesign conceptâ€? or â€œtheme.â€? STEELMAN: Casino gaming is an experience outside of real life. When a casino is designed to be a real building that mimics a city, an office tower or a warehouse with a black industrial ceiling, it is not successful. Fantasy architecture designed to fit into its urban or suburban context is what great casino design is all about. How will design change now that casino owners understand that nongaming elements will become more important than ever?
BACON: Gaming will continue to be the most important revenue generator in regional casinos, and will always need to be convenient and prominent. There are some ideas being experimented with relative to location of F&B outlets in relation to specific areas of the floor, but no radical changes to tried-and-true formulas. Regional customers donâ€™t want mystery. They want to find their way as easily as possible. BUTLER: The trend of non-gaming becoming an ever larger and more important driver of a resortâ€™s revenues has been going on for some time, brought on largely with the introduction of the Mirage in 1989, which created a multi-faceted entertainment facility where non-gaming revenue exceeded gaming revenue at its onset. This trend has continued with more and more facilities trying to offer more balanced offerings. It does not appear this trend will abate as customers are seeking a greater guest experience and a wide range of alternatives.
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FELDMAN: It will become more exciting and interconnective. People want amazing environments (and great furniture!). Casinos need to make their guests feel like they are in places that stimulate them in one way or another. Remember, the casinos or resorts have to compete with all the other ways that people can spend their money. They must employ luxury, fantasy, environmental, entertainment, and still find ways to get them to pay for play… or pay for house profit. O’CONNOR: More brands are getting involved in non-gaming amenities, which has become an increasingly significant and integral part of casino design. Bringing well-established brands to a casino means more design input from outside sources and more pre-established criteria on which to base a design. This poses a design challenge—how do we offer a new and fresh concept when you have to work within the confines of existing brand standards? One solution is to use a property’s location to create something new and relevant. For example, Hard Rock Northfield takes the “Rocksino” vibe from the influence of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in nearby Cleveland.
with all the design, construction, marketing and technology, all the experts collaborate to make a place a great place. It takes a fully engaged team to achieve this complex objective. It’s the holistic integration of all who participate that contribute to a successful bottom line. BACON: The most important measurable non-gaming amenity to the vast majority of casino resorts remains the hotel. In terms of the ability of an amenity to drive length of stay and the quality of play, there is still nothing else comparable. There is a notable and refreshing trend in casino lodging toward higher-quality, more boutique-oriented developments. These hotels typically have fewer keys, higher design quality, and are smaller investments geared toward younger guests or higher value guests.
SCHOENFELDT: The design of multiRed Rock Casino Resort Spa, ple-amenity venues has made the casidesigned by Lifescapes International no evolve from a “boxy” casino floor to a crescent shape. This is due to the BERGMAN: In Las Vegas, nightclubs/dayneed to service all venues from one dock clubs have made the greatest impact. They and one centralized kitchen and storage area. Multiple kitchens and receiving areas are now so much more than just a bar and a dance floor; many of these are fully inteare a luxury that can no longer be affordgrated environments with live performed. Up to half of a property’s revenue ances, gaming, pools, lounges and dining. comes from non-gaming amenities. These operate at a much closer margin than BUTLER: The introduction of the nightgaming itself. Any efficiencies that can be club experience, which is now prevalent in gained in the supply and staffing provide all of the contemporary facilities and has a direct benefit to the bottom line. now easily eclipsed theater entertainment What one design component/ameni- and dining, former mainstays, and at some facilities, is rivaling gaming revty has made a measurable bottomenues. line benefit to a casino property? ALESSI: The overall property is the amenity! Beauty is good business. It’s the entirety of the experience of a place that makes a destination successful. Starting with the owner’s vision and continuing
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EWING: The nightclub and lounge scene—especially in Las Vegas. FELDMAN: As a woman, I would have to say a fabulous sexy bathroom that helps
you relax and look gorgeous before you get all dolled up to go out in the evening, be glamorous, have a great dinner, imbibe in good wine, spend money on the casino floor, entice your boyfriend, mate or spouse, maybe do some late-night shopping. Live music/dancing. I assume all these results, which have to do with leaving/spending money at the resort/casino, affect the bottom line. FRIEDMUTTER: The meeting and convention space, as well as flexible function areas, have truly enhanced and driven business to the properties. Not only do these areas provide traditional meeting space; there are multiple venues and outdoor areas that are being utilized as “sellable” function areas that can be used at different times of the day, on different days of the week, with multiple uses for marketing purpose and events. Back in 2004, with the opening of Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa and before the “technology revolution,” our design incorporated indoor/outdoor space and day-to-night venue use throughout the property. The functionality, operations and profitability of these multi-use spaces continues to be important today. O’CONNOR: Convenient parking, although not necessarily the most glamorous design component, is a crucial amenity to any casino property. Getting people in and out of a property quickly, and providing them convenient access to a property’s amenities, has proven to be a benefit to attracting customers. In today’s world, in which so many of us have instant access to information, consumers want quick access to their entertainment and instant gratification. SCHOENFELDT: The single most important amenity that we have found which provides the greatest incremental drop is a parking structure. This brings guests closer to the floor and their first machine; it takes an inclement weather day and makes the resort a great destination. STEELMAN: Lighting… It adds money to the gross gaming win immediately upon completion.
Y O U R P A T H
Project Management / Scheduling / Project Controls / Earned Value Management / Consulting 4132 S. Rainbow Boulevard Suite 148, Las Vegas Nevada 89103, Phone: 702.220.4562 Fax: 702.220.9784 www.apmlasvegas.com
THE 2013 CASINO DESIGN FACULTY Diego Alessi, ASLA
A design principal with Lifescapes International, Inc., Diego Alessi has 22 years experience and has spent 17 of those years as a team member with Lifescapes International Inc. He is responsible for project design development from conceptual to finished design. His broad range of project experience includes hospitality resort development, lifestyle retail centers, pool night/day club environments, rooftop venues, office and urban spaces, park and recreational facilities, and master-planned communities. His capabilities include theme-and-story interpretation, design charette presentations, graphic illustrations, team leadership, and field services. Alessi has been a registered landscape architect in the state of California since 1994. Dike Bacon
Dike Bacon is a principal and the business development leader at Hnedak Bobo Group, Inc. In this role, Bacon is focused on influencing and aligning the firm’s expertise, multiple disciplines, and national presence with client objectives and vision. His direct professional practice experience spans 33 years and supports his leadership balancing dynamic programmatic development objectives with market and customerfocused economics. Bacon’s project experience includes major gaming/entertainment/hospitality resorts throughout the U.S., and his client list includes some of the most prominent and successful commercial gaming companies and Indian gaming tribes in the industry. Bacon is a very active sponsor and Associate Member of the National Indian Gaming Association, and is a frequent speaker at national conventions. Leonard A. Bergman, AIA
Leonard Bergman brings more than 25 years of hands-on experience as senior project manager, principal-in-charge and now as president and CEO of Bergman, Walls & Associates. Bergman has extensive experience in retail, dining, entertainment and large-scale gaming venues with successfully completed hospitality projects throughout the United States and, in particular, in Indian Country. His background in architecture and the building trades brings a comprehensive approach to project delivery with expertise in managing fasttrack, multi-faceted projects. Bergman’s experience has translated into a history of hospitality projects that combine innovative design with proven quality, while meeting both the client’s budget and schedule. Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs
President and CFO of Lifescapes International, Inc., Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs has been active with the company since 1982. Her responsibilities include guiding the growth of the award-winning landscape architectural design firm through sales and marketing efforts to resort, residential, casino, vacation ownership, office and lifestyle center developers and builders and other industry professionals. She is a frequent guest speaker, lecturer and author on design and marketing related issues for the real estate industry. In addition, she oversees financial management for the firm.
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DeRuyter O. Butler, AIA
DeRuyter O. Butler is currently employed by Wynn Design and Development as the executive vice president of architecture, and is president of Butler|Ashworth Architects, Ltd., which was the project architect and architect of record for the Wynn Las Vegas resort facility. Butler was responsible for oversight of the architectural design of the varied structures and features of Wynn and Encore Las Vegas, as well as the day-to-day architectural design, review, supervision and approval of the architectural design as submitted for public agency approval and as constructed. He is also responsible for the ongoing remodel and expansion projects at the Las Vegas Wynn Resort along with architectural design oversight for the Wynn Macau and Encore projects, and is currently developing the Wynn Palace Cotai resort project as well as other local and international projects for Wynn Resorts. John Cannito
With more than 20 years of commercial construction management experience, COO John Cannito has helped guide the PENTA Building Group as part of the executive management team since 2005. By 2008 the company had grown to $700 million in annual revenue, with the majority of the work being hospitality and hotel casino related projects. PENTA has worked continuously in Indian Country since 2002, and has built dozens of hospitality and hotel casino projects for 10 different tribal nations within that time frame, including Thunder Valley Hotel Casino Expansion, Aliante Station Casino and Hotel, the Spa Resort Casino and Agua Caliente Casino Expansion and Showroom, and well over $1 billion of projects on Las Vegas Boulevard. Brett Ewing, AIA, NCARB
Brett Ewing brings more than 30 years of experience in the gaming, hospitality and entertainment design industry to Cuningham Group as director of resort development, Las Vegas. As a hands-on executive, he excels at leading complex project teams throughout the entire architectural process. Ewing’s experience includes several significant projects in Las Vegas, including the $400 million, 925-room hotel/spa tower, restaurant and convention center at the Bellagio along with eight significant expansions at the Rio Hotel & Casino over a 10-year period. He also led the design of the $450 million Lumiere Place in St. Louis for Pinnacle Entertainment and the design of a new casino for the Yavapai Nation in Fort McDowell, Arizona. Janice Feldman
Janice Feldman, the founder of JANUS et Cie, the Californiabased leader in superior lifestyle furnishings, has from a very early age been a determined individualist. Feldman launched her career as a freelance graphic artist and interior designer practicing the various design disciplines. In 1978, she opened her own business in the Pacific Design Center, after careful planning and with encouragement from her late husband, Murray Feldman, who developed the noted Los Angeles landmark. Feldman named her nascent company JANUS et Cie. A homonym for Feldman’s own first name, JANUS is the Roman god with two
faces, one looking forward and the other looking back, who embodies Feldman’s own approach to design and to life. Brad Henry Friedmutter, AIA
Brad Friedmutter, AIA, is founder and CEO of Friedmutter Group. Friedmutter is a registered architect in Nevada and 43 additional states, holds an unrestricted Nevada gaming license, and has worked exclusively in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years. Friedmutter worked as vice president of design and construction for Steve Wynn and Mirage Resorts, Inc., and as vice president of design and construction for Bally’s Inc. Friedmutter Group was incorporated in 1992 and provides full service from offices in Las Vegas, Newport Beach and Macau. Friedmutter Group provides architecture, themed design, master planning, interior design and branding services, for hospitality and gaming projects throughout the United States, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Mexico and South America. Thomas O’Connor
Thomas O’Connor has spent a quarter of a century acquiring experience in the design and realization of a variety of architectural projects ranging from hospitality, gaming and entertainment to commercial and high-end residential building types. As one of the founding principals of SOSH Architects more than 30 years ago, O’Connor and his partners have grown this company into a national powerhouse with design projects for the country’s best known hospitality, gaming and entertainment clients. With offices in both Atlantic City and New York City, O’Connor and his partners are working on projects coast to coast as well as in the U.K., Europe and the Mideast. Paul Curtis Steelman
Paul Steelman, a native of Atlantic City, is recognized as a visionary designer of global entertainment, hospitality, and gaming architecture. Steelman has designed buildings for the mavericks of the gaming industries including Kirk Kerkorian, Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson and Stanley Ho. Based in Las Vegas, Steelman Partners is an international architectural firm specializing in the multi-disciplinary facets of entertainment architecture, interior design, graphic design, lighting and branding. The company has offices in Macau and Zhuhai, China; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Amsterdam, Holland. Nick Schoenfeldt
Throughout his career, Nick Schoenfeldt, vice president of Thalden Boyd Emery, has specialized in hospitality design. He built a vast portfolio of projects including private clubs, restaurants and casinos. His background includes design/build experience with hotels/resorts, which enables him to synthesize the furniture, finishes and architectural elements into a cohesive whole. He spent two years as director of interior design for Adam’s Mark Hotels. His casino design experience prior to joining the firm includes the St. Croix Casino & Hotel in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, and since joining the firm 13 years ago, he has worked on more than 30 casino/hotel projects.
Venetian Las Vegas
Sweating the Small Stuff KEEPING AN EXISTING PROPERTY CURRENT BY KLAUS M. STEINKE AND JANE S. LEE
ow many times have you visited a theme park like Disneyland or Universal City? Do you remember what the place was like the first time you went? And how it has changed over time? Over the years attractions have been added and some have been closed, but the essence of the park has remained. Disneyland is still Disneyland. It’s important for the theme parks to maintain that essence of what they are. Parents, who first arrived as children themselves, now bring their own children and find the experience is still thrilling, still
CASINO DESIGN 2013
exciting—although much of the park has changed since they were there as children. That same sort of experience also holds to gaming properties. People come to a particular property, have a good time, and return many more times. They like the rooms, the restaurants, the entertainment, the gaming experience, and were treated well by the staff—in short, they had a good time and would like to have it again. But there is also a lesson to be learned from the theme parks, and that is leaving everything untouched, unchanged, unimproved, will soon have your guests bored and looking to go elsewhere.
There are additional challenges to a gaming property beyond just becoming stale. Brett Ewing of the Cuningham Group points out that gaming properties face challenges from new competition, from capital improvements in other existing properties, in addition to the pressure to refresh one’s own facilities. That leaves the property managers with a difficult riddle to solve—how do we keep the property fresh and new while still retaining the look and feel that so many people already like and want to continue enjoying? How do you do what the theme parks have so successfully done, continually reinventing themselves while holding on to the essence of what made them successful in the first place? Paul Steelman, CEO of Steelman Partners, notes, “Throughout history, significant entertainment buildings have been redesigned to enhance the experience—not change it.” Take what your property has and what people enjoy, and enhance that. It’s also an opportunity to work out a few problem areas as well. Scott P. Celella,
venues around the world. “These design techniques have been developed in many of the beloved European hotels like the Plaza Athene in Paris, the Connaught in London or the Plaza in New York,” he says. “These have recently completed major renovations, and they are more beautiful and functional than ever before, yet they feel the same.” And the results? “Our results are dramatic,” says Steelman. “Before-and-after pictures really show how much so even a simple renovation can be. Keeping track of the financial results, many of the casinos we have renovated have experienced a casino win increase of 35 percent. After all, people want to spend more time in a space they love.”
Seeing the Larger Picture
t’s often useful to begin by taking an overall look at the property and defining what its essence is. What is the property known for? Has it defined its own brand? Does it have an overriding theme, as many properties do?
pal and designer at HBG. “WinStar World is already a very profitable casino, and their property is ultimately successful because the nation is driven to reach out to new clientele by expanding the amenity offerings and quality, while also accommodating the needs of their triedand-true patrons.” The fact that WinStar World was a themed property also helped define the direction of the updates, so that the new would blend in well with the existing. “The travel-themed motif at the casino is very closely tied into the WinStar World Casino and Resort brand, so we naturally embraced and enhanced the concept,” says Jurbergs. Most properties grow over time, starting with a casino, dining venues and a hotel. Future development will depend upon the customer base and their interests, and could include showrooms, convention spaces, bowling alleys, movie theaters, etc. Seeing the larger picture means planning ahead, as Ewing of the Cuningham Group relates: “One of the properties
WinStar World Casino and Resort makes constant upgrades to attract new customers.
Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City has added a Margaritaville component.
principal at JCJ Architecture, points out, “When undertaking renovation/improvement projects at existing facilities, it’s important to position change as an opportunity to address issues, bring a greater level of service, and enhance the existing experience.” To illustrate his point, Steelman points to a number of famous hospitality
Answering these questions helps define where the changes should occur and in what direction they should go. Hnedak Bobo Group started with this approach with its work at the WinStar World Casino and Resort. “The Chickasaw Nation has terrific foresight about where they want to take their brand,” states Rob Jurbergs, princi-
we’re currently working with is Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. Their resort opened in 1999 and since then has undergone multiple expansions to get to its current size, which includes a 292-room luxury hotel and 1,600-seat event center. They have a desire to continue to grow and change, casinodesignmagazine.com
These design techniques have been developed in many of the beloved European hotels like the Plaza Athene in Paris, the Connaught in London or the Plaza in New York. These have recently completed major renovations, and they are more beautiful and functional than ever before, yet they feel the same. —Paul Steelman, CEO of Steelman Partners
and have a new general manager in place who understands the need to plan property-wide. They are looking at where the future opportunities are and how they can balance growth with funds as they become available. And they want to know what their guests want so there is buy-in to the process and decision-making.”
Similar but Different
ometimes an expansion is so large and extensive that it can be considered a separate property in its own right. Think of Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Encore, or the Venetian Las Vegas and the Palazzo. Crown Limited faced that same question for its Crown Towers Perth, in Western Australia. “Crown Limited wanted to expand its existing hospitality offering in Perth to keep up with market demand and maintain its position as a leading resorts operator in Australia,” says Brandon Y.K. Maldonado of YWS Architects. “In order to capture the emerging luxury market, but not wanting to alienate their existing market, they decided to maintain their existing hospitality offerings and add a five-star hotel, VIP gaming and world-class retail, dining and meeting space. The addition was seamlessly integrated with the existing hotel towers and created a property ideally designed to capture a broad range of market segments.” There are times when a number of changes can add a new theme to an existing property. Consider the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. In 2011, Resorts Casino converted the property to a Roaring Twenties theme. The rebranding capitalized on the success of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. The resort adopted this 42
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rebranding celebrating the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s by accentuating the resort’s Art Deco design as well as presenting 1920s-era uniforms for employees and music from this time period. More recently, Resorts Casino Hotel hired SOSH Architects and interiors firm McBride Design to recharge the Atlantic City property with a series of Jimmy Buffett-themed attractions. This complex project contains three main parts: Margaritaville Casino and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar; Margaritaville Café, retail store, and coffee shop; and Landshark Bar & Grill Pier. Paying close attention to the particulars of Resorts’ oceanfront site and the peculiar-
the property, bringing in a new demographic to the to the property,” says Michael Mangini, director of interior design at SOSH Architects. “I can’t image any other celebrity (Buffett) who transcends generations by uniting people through his music, culture and food. By introducing gaming to the equation, this is an elevated party experience.”
Enhancing the Experience
n years past, people would go out for an evening and come home smelling of cigarette smoke. No one thought much of it then, but today most jurisdictions have laws that limit where people can smoke. Casino properties are one of the few holdouts where Constant renovations smoking inside a building keep New York’s is still permitted, at least in famous Plaza Hotel current and vibrant. some areas. Guests, however, have become used to non-smoking environments and find the old smoke-filled rooms unacceptable. Clearing the indoor air, then, has become one of the best ways to enhance a guest’s enjoyment of a property. Greg Peterson of AE Associates, an MEP firm, relates the impact that new HVAC equipment made in the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. “The dated ities of its existing Art Deco architecture, casino floor was in serious need of an inteSOSH and McBride set out to bring a new rior face lift,” he says. “New gaming level of energy and activity to Resorts and machines, new carpeting, new wall coverthe adjacent Boardwalk. The completed ing and improvements to the existing ceildesign blends the dignity of the historic ing, including a complete lighting retrofit building with the light-hearted island project, were performed. The existing casilifestyle, refashioning Resorts into a no had an even bigger problem—it was dynamic entertainment destination. extremely smoky, and the indoor air quality “We were sensitive to design and create (IAQ) was the biggest guest complaint. a synergy between the historic relevance The aging mechanical system could not and proud history that Resorts has estabadequately remove cigarette smoke from lished while at the same time infusing the the casino floor. Additionally, the HVAC fun factor of the Margaritaville brand to
L’Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles added new interior lighting to make a difference.
Through the use of lighting, audio and video we are creating spaces that are important to gaming clientele, and help make the experience holistic at a casino resort. —Michael Shulman, executive director, design and business strategy, Illuminating Concepts
system could not properly cool portions of the casino.” As JCJ Architecture’s Scott Celella notes, a renovation is an excellent opportunity to address various issues at a property to enhance the guest experience. Peterson continues, “As ownership had a limited capital budget, an indoor air quality improvement was performed for approximately one third of the casino floor. The aging rooftop units serving this area of the casino were in need of replacement; however, there was no additional structural capacity to accommodate heavier units. A like-for-like unit replacement would not achieve the IAQ goals for the property, and ownership did not want to incur the cost or the guest disruption associated with increasing the structural capacity of the roof. “AE proposed a solution to utilize new, custom air-handling units that were the same size and weight of the existing units, but would drastically improve the IAQ within this portion of the casino. The project was a huge success. The area of the casino where the IAQ improvement project was performed went from the worst IAQ on the casino floor to the best.” Indoor air quality is very important to the guest experience, but so is lighting 44
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use of lighting, audio and video, we are creating spaces that are important to gaming clientele, and help make the experience holistic at a casino resort. As an example, add a poker room with accent lighting on the tables, soft general lighting to accent the architecture, audio that can act as background sound, or as a paging system for tournaments; add TVs for players to keep track of games, poker tournaments, etc.”
Change is Gonna Come
and sound. Recently, Illuminating Concepts had an opportunity to work on a renovation of the L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Working with Montgomery Roth Architecture and Interior Design and naval architect Lay Pitman, IC worked to help create an environment that maintained the ideal portions of the existing resort, streamlined the updates to blend, and filled in and refreshed where the property was lacking through use of new spaces, materials, light and sound. In the casino floor gaming pits and cage areas, IC added lighting at table games for better visual acuity and to add dimension and accent the gaming pits. They were also able to bolster the existing audio systems and infill the dead zones to allow better transition between speakers and create supporting audio experience that blends into the environment. Throughout the gaming area, they were able to accent through the use of materials and lighting such as backlit alabaster, highlighted drapery, and architecturally integrated lighting to allow an easier way finding and navigating the property. Illuminating Concepts’ Michael Shulman, executive director, design and business strategy, explains, “Through the
alt Disney was a genius, and the theme parks he and others created are still a marvel, many years later. We enjoy them not only for the rides and shows, but because the logistics have been worked out so well. We enjoy going back time after time, not only to revisit the attractions we enjoyed last time, but to also check out all the new attractions, which we confidently expect will match the level of enjoyment of all the existing attractions. There is no reason a gaming property can’t do the same thing—create an enjoyable environment of attractions such as gaming, shows, dining venues, and retail—and keep it fresh year after year while holding to a consistent level of quality throughout.
Klaus M. Steinke has worked on a variety of hospitality, casino, commercial and other office projects, several of them exceeding $200 million in construction costs. His 30 years as a licensed architect has been both in the office and on site. Steinke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jane S. Lee is managing partner and cofounder of American Project Management, a certified women-owned business enterprise (WBE) and minority-owned business enterprise (MBE) established in 2003 specifically to assist U.S. clients in a variety of project management, scheduling, project controls, earned value management, claims analysis and consulting services. She has 30 years of marketing, business development and management experience in the global financial, investor relations, design and construction industries. Contact Lee at email@example.com.
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B U I L D I N G An INDUSTRY
WHEN RICHARD “DICK” RIZZO was chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Sarno Lifetime Achievement Award for Casino Design, it marked the first time that someone from the construction end of the design process had been honored since the award originated in 2003. Rizzo, the vice chairman of Tutor Perini Corp., says it’s an honor that reflects well on the construction trades. “Having been brought up in this business, I always recognize that the contractor was not on an equal professional level with the others that we work with,” he explains. “It always bothered me that that wasn’t happening. I didn’t feel we were getting the respect that we deserved for what we add to the team. We worked very hard to build that level of professionalism up, to be respected on a par with an architect or an engineer, because we’re all engineers. We all get the same training; it’s just that we’re in a different part of the business. “The fact that the design industry has recognized us as being at their level, makes me feel good.”
CASINO DESIGN 2013
SARNO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER DICK RIZZO TALKS ABOUT A CAREER IN CASINO CONSTRUCTION | BY ROGER GROS CONVINCING START
izzo’s beginning in gaming dates back to the mid 1970s, when thenPerini Construction did a few public projects in Las Vegas. “We had done some work at McCarran Airport and successfully bid for the Thomas & Mack arena and Cashman Field,” he explains. “I realized that there were lots of other opportunities in Las Vegas if we could just put it together.” Rizzo proposed to the Perini board that the company bid for some of the upcoming casino projects in Vegas. “They were very reticent to aggressively pursue it,” he says, “for a lot of reasons, but most prominently because the image of Las Vegas gaming, at that point in its history,
was not as clean as it should have been for a public company like Perini to get involved.” But Rizzo persisted and got the approval of the board to work on a project for another public company, Ramada, which had recently purchased the Tropicana, and was planning large-scale renovations. “I called my friend Dick Snell, who headed up the company at that time, and asked if we could get involved,” says Rizzo. “He agreed, and a small kitchen remodel turned into a major $50 million-$60 million project.” Another significant element of the Tropicana project was that it was a “designbuild” effort, meaning design and construction occurred at virtually the same time. “This was the first time anything like this had been done in Las Vegas, and it was
immediately noticed,” says Rizzo. “The first full design-build project we did from the start was the Luxor, and Circus Circus (later Mandalay) Corporation immediately became one of our best clients.” Perini’s success with these projects led to many others, including Paris Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch and Wynn Resorts’ Encore. Caesars Palace has also been good to Perini. The company was first awarded a project to renovate one of the casino towers 15 years ago. “We never left,” he laughs. “We started in one corner, and went through the entire building; remodeled it all, the entire outside, added two towers, added the Colosseum theater, then built an addition to the Forum Shops. That really put us on the map as being a real player on the Strip.” But it was CityCenter and Cosmopolitan that has truly made an impact on Tutor Perini. The adjacent projects were owned by different companies, but Tutor Perini built each of them simultaneously. “These were the best and biggest kinds of things we had ever done, and both got Tutor Perini Gaming Projects Under Dick Rizzo include (r.) Caesars Palace Forum Shops, CityCenter Aria and (opposite page) The Luxor.
he success of Perini in Las Vegas led to projects in gaming jurisdictions across the country. The company has been active in Atlantic City, Detroit, Biloxi, Tunica and many other regional markets. But the place where Rizzo is most pleased to participate is in Indian Country. “The first big tribal project we did was Soaring Eagle in Michigan,” he says. “And at that point, very few people understood what it took to do work on native projects. There were unique challenges that had to be addressed. “Because they’re sovereign,” he says, “you need to make sure you understand what rights you have, and which rights you should have, when dealing on sovereign land, no matter who it is. And we take pride in the fact that we figured that out. We developed what is now standard in the industry, a limited waiver on sovereign immunity for any significant construction, which most tribes are willing to sign.” Other challenges include the need to get most of the tribal factions to agree on a design, budget and timetable, says Rizzo. “As a result of that, the process becomes very burdensome,” he says. “It sometimes can drag out for endless months, for no real reason other than they just can’t reach a consensus. So understanding that, and being patient with them, and respecting that, is probably the most important part of understanding how to do business with them. And the other thing that we learned, overall, is that it’s all about trust. They don’t trust many people, and they have good reason not to, because they’ve been abused over the years, and as a result of that, we, as the outsiders coming in, are immediately a suspect. “So the ability for us to prove that we could be trusted was the key in our growth in that industry.” Because of that trust, Perini gets a majority of the business in states with multiple tribes, like California, where Rizzo says Perini gets 80 percent of the tribal construction business.
BIG WHEELS huge recognition by everyone that comes to Las Vegas as being another iconic piece of the town,” he says. These projects led to the contract to build New York’s Hudson Yards, which will be the largest construction project in the history of the U.S. “CityCenter and Cosmopolitan gave us the credentials that we didn’t have before in doing very large projects,” he explains. “Between the two, it was more than a $10 billion investment. “We would have never been qualified to do Hudson Yards, and never been invited to even go there, if it weren’t for our experiences in Las Vegas.” Gaming as a category has often sustained Perini during difficult economic periods. “In the last 10 years, up through ’08 at least when we had the slowdown, gaming represented probably close to 50 percent or 60 percent of the total revenue of the corporation. We’re now probably a third,” Rizzo says.
n the process of becoming the major builder on the Las Vegas Strip and in all of gaming, Rizzo has had the opportunity to work with the major players in the industry. He says typically the involvement of the presidents and chairmen of the casino companies is more hands-on than in other industries. “Any of the big, big guys—Caesars or MGM or Steve Wynn—they’re very into the process, personally, right from the very top. Steve Wynn is a classic example of that. Sheldon Adelson is another one. And we’ve done work for every one of them. And every one of them is uniquely successful because the attention to detail starts at the very top. We have to allow them the flexibility that they need, because many times they get into these projects and they really don’t know what they want. As you build it, they develop it, and they change their mind many times—all the time!” Like with tribes, however, Rizzo says understanding and patience are all part of the game. “Work with them and in concert with them, in that kind of casinodesignmagazine.com
SARNO AWARD WINNERS The Sarno Award for Lifetime Achievement in Casino Design was named for its first recipient, Jay Sarno, the designer of the first two themed properties in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and Circus Circus. 2013: Richard Rizzo 2012: J. Terrance Lanni 2011: Martin Stern, Jr. 2010: Paul Steelman 2009: Roger Thomas 2008: David Rockwell 2007: Brad Friedmutter 2006: Joel Bergman 2005: Donald Brinkerhoff 2004: Jon Jerde 2003: Jay Sarno
a fast-track, change-your-mind, almost build-and-design atmosphere has made us uniquely qualified to do that, because most of our clients work that way. And other contractors that have tried to get into the market have a very difficult time understanding that part of it. Those are the kinds of owners that end up being the leaders in gaming. They are very creative individuals; they’re very trend-setting, and they’re also very competitive with each other. So they’re always trying to create the next big thing.” Rizzo says, however, that Wynn is the standout example of a great owner and a great collaborator. “He created Las Vegas,” he insists. “Everything that you see in Las Vegas today, somehow, Steve Wynn has touched in his history. He has created the trend toward fine dining, the trend toward stunning entertainment, the trend toward nightclubs. Everything that you see now that’s really matured in Las Vegas has really been touched by and ignited by Steve Wynn. He is the leader.”
TECHNOLOGY AND PEOPLE
hen asked if there have been big changes in the construction industry since he started, Rizzo says there have not. “The biggest change is in the technology we use to share the plans and changes as
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“This is built into our culture,” he says, “and if you look at our mission statement, it says part of our responsibilities as leaders is to give back to the communities in which we live and prosper. So I took that seriously.” Rizzo says it’s not only the leaders that live by this philosophy. “In any company, you set the trend from the top, and it’s amazing how many people follow,” he says. “And our company is very committed, from the very bottom to the top, in terms of giving back whenever they are given the opportunity to do so.” Learning from other companies is also central to Tutor Perini’s culture, says Rizzo. “I have to give credit to MGM at CityCenter for their efforts in inclusion and diversity, because they got us really focused on that,” he says. “As a result of that program and what we learned from that, we received national recognition for the accomplishments that we had achieved there. We have now incorporated that kind of philosophy in almost every project that we do. And I have to say MGM really got us focused on that.” Another initiative MGM Resorts insisted upon at Cosmopolitan CityCenter was achieving an LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certificate for the project. “Our corporation is ranked No. 2 in the country in terms of green right now,” he says. “And that was the biggest LEED Gold program in the history of the United States. So we took advantage of that as well, and learned a lot from that process. That has allowed us to look at a lot of other oppor“Training is lacking throughout our tunities that have that same requirement, industry, and the union has really played a and be uniquely qualified for that work significant role in making sure that we are because it is a unique process you go getting well-trained and well-educated through in getting LEED certification. And plumbers, electricians, carpenters and so if you don’t understand the paperwork forth, because the kinds of things we’re involved and the way it needs to happen, it being asked to do now are much more can be very burdensome and costly.” sophisticated,” he says. Rizzo has passed the day-to-day activities at Perini to Craig Shaw. The two have GIVING BACK AND been working together from the start, but LEARNING Rizzo believes Shaw’s talents have benefited the company. utor Perini has a corporate philoso“It has now made my life much more phy of community involvement and charitable giving, Rizzo says. He has tolerable,” he says, “in terms of understanding what I can do to continue to add value received numerous awards from charities and civic organizations for his participation here, without having the day-to-day burden or running the company.” in causes. construction goes forward,” he says. “Everything that we design now is on BIM (building information modeling). If you and your subs are not integrated and they don’t have the ability to utilize BIM, they can’t play with you. So you educate your subcontractors. ‘These are the tools of the trade,’ you tell them, ‘and you need to understand what you need to do to help us with those tools, and utilizing those tools yourself to make the process work.’” But building is still building, according to Rizzo. “I just don’t think there’s anything else that we’re doing today that we didn’t do 20 years ago.” One of the things that hasn’t changed over the years is the need for skilled workers. “We believe in the quality of our workers,” he says. “We’re a union contractor, because we believe that they can produce the quality of worker and the training that’s necessary to do the kinds of things we’re being asked to do.” Because the workload is so large and the schedule so tight, there isn’t much preparation of workers occurring.
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Sarno Award Winner Dick Rizzo is congratulated by the daughter and son of the late Jay Sarno, September and Freddie Sarno.
5 Somewhere O’Clock
Margaritaville designs highlight winners of G2E’s 2013 Casino Design Awards BY PATRICK ROBERTS theme of sorts emerged in the casino design field this year when two of the winners of G2E’s Casino Design Awards were for two different properties but the same theme. The Margaritaville projects in Bossier City, Louisiana, and in Atlantic City won their categories, giving attendees at the awards program something to celebrate during G2E 2013. G2E’s Casino Design Awards are the preeminent design awards program for the gaming industry. The prestigious awards recognize excellence in architecture, design and construction in the gaming industry. The Sarno Award for Lifetime Achievement, named after famed casino visionary Jay Sarno, also was presented during the ceremony to Richard J. Rizzo, vice chairman of Perini Building Company, Inc. (see page 46). Rizzo, who has overseen and developed casinos up and down the Las Vegas Strip and in
BEST ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OVER $100 MILLION FOR A CASINO OR CASINO RESORT Cuningham Group Architecture for Margaritaville Resort Casino, Bossier City, Louisiana
BEST ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN UNDER $100 MILLION FOR A CASINO OR CASINO RESORT SOSH Architects for Margaritaville & Landshark Bar & Grill Pier, Resorts Atlantic City
gaming jurisdictions across the U.S., was recognized for his contributions to casino resort construction. Jay Sarno’s son, Freddie Sarno, presented the award to Rizzo, along with his sister, September Sarno. The Casino Design Awards were created and are administred by Global Gaming Business magazine and its supplement, Casino Design magazine. An advisory board of architects, designers, builders and consultants established the categories and criteria for the awards. The judges for G2E’s Casino Design Awards were: David 50
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Schwartz, director, University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research; Seth Makowsky, founder, Makowsky Restaurant Group; and Katherine Spilde, associate professor, San Diego State University, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The G2E Casino Design Awards are presented each year at the industry’s leading trade show and conference, and are sponsored by the show organizers, Reed Exhibitions and the American Gaming Association. The winners of the Casino Design Awards for 2013 are:
BEST INTERIOR DESIGN FOR CASINO OR A CASINO RESORT VENUE DSAA/Steelman Partners for Galaxy Sky VIP Casino, Macau
BEST INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A CASINO RESTAURANT OR NIGHTCLUB YWS Architects for Hakkasan at MGM Grand, Las Vegas
BEST OVERALL INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A CASINO OR CASINO RESORT DSAA / Steelman Partners for Solaire Manila Resort and Casino
BEST NATIVE AMERICAN CASINO FACILITY LIMITED TO CASINOS OR CASINO RESORTS Friedmutter Group and JBA Consulting Engineers for Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, Arizona
BEST ARCHITECTURAL RE-DESIGN AND/OR EXPANSION FOR A CASINO RESORT Hnedak Bobo Group for Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort, Michigan
BEST SPECIALTY CONSULTING/INNOVATION PERFORMANCE Illuminating Concepts for L'Auberge Baton Rouge
BEST LANDSCAPE DESIGN FOR A CASINO OR CASINO RESORT Yaeger Architecture for Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway casinodesignmagazine.com
how does one stay on budget Gamingâ€™s dilemma propels a while looking cutting-edge? lucrative era for the design world. Gaming looks to the hotel As casino operators crowd industry. Brand and boutique hotel shrinking marketsâ€”Oklahoma concepts, the casino version of B&B, alone sports about 100 propertiesâ€” are much more than bed and breakfast. the need for separation intensifies. In this emerging realm, casinos can Special qualities become harder to be upscale yet subtle, personalized yet demonstrate amid the constantly rising prosperous. More properties pin their sepacustomer-demand bar. ration hopes on hotel and convention space. Most casinos already display superb They tap a resource once geared toward service, loyalty clubs and creative dealwealthy business travelers. structuring. Many add revenue-producing This philosophy originated in the 1980s. A amenities like theaters and parking lots, or classic boutique hotel meant themes and services loss leaders like golf courses and spas, to keep BY DAVE BONTEMPO in a stylish, intimate manner. As technology customers on site. They seek a further edge by emerged, guest rooms became fitted with Wi-Fi providing dinners, shows, rewards and discounts internet, honesty bars, on-site dining facilities, bars and restauwith the swipe of a card. rants. This concept became popular in major cities, and targeted What is the next leg of in this customer-service race? And
How smaller hotels defeat budget limits and build loyalty
Margaritaville, Bossier City
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road warriors. Hence, the rise of Starwood and W Hotels. It also attracted gaming interests, which brought a branding element into play. Branding denotes name recognition, as in Hard Rock. A certain service standard and amenities list surrounds a wellknown property. Branding and boutique. Both avenues are available to casinos, but dollars must be spent wisely. This is where designers make a difference. They have large staffs and a presence in multimillion-dollar buildings, but can also stretch the expansion-project dollar. They can maximize space, select appropriate colors, utilize local artifacts and blend the right dash of history into a modern look. Their clients can swagger, even on a “shoestring” budget. And that’s never been more important.
Mountains influence,” he says. “It has the rock and the stone. It has the wood. It has the twigs, the dappled light, all in the space of the lobby itself, and the rooms carry through. “You have this brand promise for Harrah’s that says ‘I am in a special place.’ The hotel casino skyway is across a creek where people are fishing for trout. It is a special branded experience and that can only happen in this one place in this one time.”
Hoskens says smaller operators can obtain bang for their buck with precise planning about multi-use of space and a streamlined effort between construction and design. In mid October, Cuningham won a contract for the Valley River casino to be built about an hour away from Harrah’s Cherokee. Its budget is smaller than Margaritaville, but Hoskens believes it will maximize the dollars. Hoskens says his group and the construction company work closely together. This figures to pro-
Find What’s Special
om Hoskens, principal and director of strategic design for Cuningham Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota, likes the roles boutique and branding play in the hotelcasino business. “They are going together more and more,” Hoskens indicates. “The boutique hotel set out the parameters. It’s all about the service amenities, about making it unique. The boutique hotel takes the branded experience as a promise that you are going to have a certain type of experience time and again. It can be a great bar, terrific restaurant or a special spot for people to congregate. “Gaming has taken that and said that no matter what size property you have, you can have that special experience, and it can be wonderful, especially if you can take advantage of your location.” Cuningham’s influence on the Harrah’s Cherokee property in North Carolina bears out Hoskens’ point. His company won awards for its massive and tasteful $650 million renovation, which won a host of HOSPY Awards. They include the best buffet and best theatrical experience for 2012 and best lobby and suites for 2011. While a property’s overall beauty is impressive, Hoskens believes it works by sparking human emotion. In his eye, every building tells a story, and one’s imagination can be unleashed within that context. “Harrah’s has that great Smokey
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino
Cuningham applies the concept of exclusivity differently with Bossier City, Louisiana’s Margaritaville. The property opened in July with a heavy design emphasis, naturally, on Jimmy Buffett, the performer for whom it is named. “It’s a little bit about the cheeseburger, but mostly about the paradise,” Hoskens jokes, linking Buffett’s famed “Cheeseburger in Paradise” tune to the property’s branded message. The hotel projects a flamboyant party air onto its gaming premises. “From the hotel lobby, you are going through a bit of forest,” Hoskens says. “You are traveling through a green area and as you are going through this special place with plants, flowers and trees, what do you see in the distance but a Tiki bar? And that is just before you get to the room. This is a specialty experience, a boutique experience, and you know that this guy is coming back.”
duce a coordinated spending approach, with design ideas being implemented in the most cost-effective fashion. “This will be 300 rooms, and is going to have a specialty boutique look and feel to it,” Hoskens says. “This ought to be interesting. We are just starting the project now. The Valley River actually exists in this area and is going to figure prominently in the design.” Smaller properties need to hustle in unique ways. Hoskens says “they have to do something special in the room. All of them try to do that. Most of them play games with the bathroom and toilet room and the shower areas in an attempt to make a big impact. The second thing is, ‘How do you plug in your devices?’ What is your bed and sitting area like? How well do they work together? This is the lowhanging fruit, as it were.” Cuningham has prospered with the rise of Indian gaming in the last quarter century. casinodesignmagazine.com
The building’s vibrant contemporary exterior “colors visually tie in with the existing casino and
enhance the cohesiveness of the entire property. ”
DIKE BACON, PRINCIPAL AT HBG
Ft. Sill Apache Casino Hotel
Designing the Fun
emphis-based Hnedak Bobo Group has a grip on large and small projects. The company thinks big, but can fit those ideas into a smaller budget, if asked. Hnedak Bobo designed the Apache Casino Hotel, which opened in 2012, with that in mind. The Lawton, Oklahoma, property has been called “the most fun hotel from Oklahoma City to Dallas,” and is also one of the most luxurious lodging options in the southwest Oklahoma gaming market. And for a reasonable start-up cost. “This $24 million hotel is a great example of a design that has enhanced and solidified the unique character of the Ft. Sill Apaches’ gaming brand,” says Dike Bacon, principal at HBG. “The hotel’s bold, bright colors and contemporary design aesthetic add to the high-energy gaming experience at the casino, and is giving its customers something to talk about through unique offerings that elevate the tribe’s brand.” “Our guests often tell us how surprised they are by the quality and appealing design of our new hotel,” says Jeff Haozous, chairman of the Ft. Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. “The attention to detail separates our property from any hotel in our region and provides an experience that, until now, was not available here. The hotel design complements and supports our overall gaming business.” It’s hard to miss the new five-story, 132-key, 74,541-square-foot hotel, which is positioned to capture attention from patrons arriving from the west. “The building’s vibrant contemporary 54
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exterior colors visually tie in with the existing casino and enhance the cohesiveness of the entire property,” says Nathan Peak, senior associate and lead designer at HBG. At night, a vivid play of color and light act as a dazzling beacon for patrons. “The hotel is designed to look and feel different at night,” Peak asserts. “Linear LED light coves were placed around the hotel roof edge, and the columns at the porte cochere were articulated with custom metal enclosures with LED pin lights that illuminate the columns from within. At night, there is no mistaking the instant
drama that is created by this light display.” A 25,171-square-foot promenade connector link provides creative casino and hotel separation, and serves a greater purpose than a mere passageway to and from the casino. The connector structure was created as the nucleus of the property, even functioning as the main entry lobby for hotel guests from a new two-lane porte cochere. “Our guests feel like they are in a bigger city when they first enter the hotel lobby,” Haozous says. HBG Interior Designer Jennifer Smith,
along with Peak and Interior Architect Aron Ramage, worked closely with Haozous to achieve this effect. “Our client really wanted to maximize playful, contemporary design, using vibrant patterns and fresh, clean lines,” says Smith. Designers animated the connector walkway with colorful, modern feature walls and activated the location with key amenities. They include the main hotel check-in desk, business center and retail shop, a cozy lobby lounge with fireplace, and the new 360 restaurant featuring 126seat dining, a 24-seat bar and a 22-seat private dining room. Topping it off is a 2,500-square-foot ballroom that partitions into smaller meeting rooms with a banquet-sized kitchen and an escalator to the mezzanine-level casino floor. The five-story hotel offers a mix of standard rooms and suites. It totals 84 kings, 44 double queens and four suites, some with special features such as wet bars, large glass showers, and first-floor patios that lead to the swimming pool. “All guestrooms and suites offer custom carpet and casework, with nice-sized bathrooms. We pulled high quality through all aspects of the public spaces and into the guestrooms,” Smith indicates. “By working closely with the Ft. Sill Apache Tribe, we have created the ideal hotel design for a casino that is continuously noted for its charismatic customer service and friendliness,” says Janet SmithHaltom, principal and project manager for HBG. “And as the Ft. Sill Apache Casino Hotel property grows, the design will accommodate graceful future expansion for additional amenities.”
The boutique concept gives “ you that step up in personal attention. While a brand lets you know that you can have option A, B or C, the boutique idea attempts to do things on a much more personal level.
KEN KULAS, PRINCIPAL CLEO DESIGN
Seminole Hard Rock Café Tampa
Building on Relationships
en Kulas and Ann Fleming opened Las Vegas-based Cleo Design in 2000 and carved a steady niche in the design world. Cleo has parlayed strong relations with tribal casinos into a long-running business plan. They constantly upgrade and expand the Seminole Hard Rock casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Florida. The company has been part of the design and planning process since the properties opened. What does the branded hotel mean in this era? “The boutique concept gives you that step up in personal attention,” Kulas says. “You feel you will get more individual catering, a relationship with the concierge, etc. While a brand lets you know that you can have option A, B or C, the boutique idea attempts to do things on a much more personal level.” Tribal and non-tribal properties are consistent with this approach. While they differ in one respect—Kulas says owners and operators are more influential in casino design than tribal officials—both entities need to know their product and audience. “With the tribal projects, we find that many of the expansion projects they do are able to customize the different ideas to provide the guest a broader experience,” Kulas indicates. “This can be expressed in tower remodeling, and it can be reflected in the rooms with amenities like a return to themed experiences, which are becoming more popular. We had moved away from them, but they are coming back with 56
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rooms like the honeymoon suite or bachelor pad. “Their approach is that you want to provide as many options as possible,” Kulas says. “Around Hard Rock Hollywood, for example, they have a lot of retired people in their area, so in that case the casino caters to one group during the daytime, primarily by way of specialty gaming events along with slots, bingos, raffles and giveaways. And then in the evening it takes on almost a club atmosphere with entertainment and special events. There are a few different things that come out at night. The lighting changes and the music gradually changes.” The Hollywood property showcases a pool area, spa and great restaurants. Tower and hotel remodeling and gaming-floor expansion has been a continual process here. In Tampa, the Seminoles have added a restaurant, pool bar and expanded gaming floor. Cleo has also worked extensively with the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma. Its most-recent 18-month project set to conclude late in 2014 spans a number of areas. The tribe is thinking both locally and regionally. Durant is only about an hour from Dallas, which expects to obtain gaming in the near future. So, it gears up. “There is a lot of competition nearby and with Dallas,” Kulas asserts. “They want to stay ahead of the curve. They are trying to service the Dallas crowd, so they will keep coming. Their recent project is a convention and exhibit hall along with a new tower. Within that tower, the majority of the facility is set to cater to a convention
type of person. Also mixed into this tower is a new spa facility. They have guest rooms specifically designed and oriented toward a spa customer. The finishes and amenities have a resort spa-type look.” Kulas predicts an arsenal of four different products for the Choctaw operators. They will have both a Vegas and a local theme in a casino and hotel. Cleo is working on the exhibit hall and convention area for one casino, and the bowling alley and movie theater for the more locally based facility. Future plans included changes to the Choctaw Inn, which is tied in to the locals concept. Whether for locals or tourists, branding to create boutique experiences is the element that has not only brought success to these projects, but is a key to success for designers working on projects with footprints that are dwarfed by the megaresorts. In this case, smaller is better.
Cherokee Durant Casino Resort in Oklahoma
Powerful Incentive The Graton Resort shows how incorporating energy incentives into building and design has short- and long-term benefits | BY JIM GIST BUILDING GREEN has its benefits. For the owners of the new Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, California, those include the anticipated receipt of a nearly $165,000 incentive award from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The design team, including Las Vegas-based KGA Architecture, Farmington Hills; Michigan-based lighting designer Illuminating Concepts; and JBA Engineering Consultants, shared an additional $50,000 award. To secure the incentives, JBA Trusted Advisors helped design a building that would exceed the requirements of the California Green Building Standards Code, Title 24, by 15.6 percent. The awards are paid under a state-mandated program called “Savings by Design.” “Of course, the real savings come from the enhanced efficiency of the building,” says Ryan Marruffo, senior account manager for PG&E. “By designing the casino with energy efficiency top of mind, the owners will save more than one million kilowatts of energy.” At current rates, that’s about $139,000 per year.
GRATON RESORT AND CASINO
he $800 million Graton Resort & Casino, which opened November 5, is located north of San Francisco. The facility offers 144 table games, including a poker room and 3,000 slot and video poker machines. There are four stand-alone restaurants, three bars, a 500-seat Marketplace dining area featuring an additional nine casual restaurants, and a 750-seat event center. Owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the resort is managed by Station Casinos of Las Vegas, who also handled the construction process. “We’ve worked on other Station properties, and they have the highest standards,” says JJ Wisdom, senior project manager, electrical engineering for JBA. “This is a really beautiful facility. It’s the only casino I’ve ever visited with a skylight (located inside the Sky bar).” The property is unique in other ways as well. “Some casinos will provide backup power only for critical systems,” says Wisdom. “But with Station, there is never any question about backing up the slots and
even the air handlers, so that, in the event of a power failure, play can go on with a reasonable level of comfort.” Wisdom specified a closed transition paralleling switchgear electrical system with two 1.5KW generators, which will take over upon loss of utility power. It also allows for code-required generator testing to occur without interruption of casino functions. The design highlights the JBA philosophy that the comfort and enjoyment of the guests should not be compromised by the needs of an energy-efficient design. The mark of a great building system is that it delivers high functionality as well as efficiency. There were three areas the design team focused on to reduce the building’s energy consumption:
1. The building envelope. “We worked hand-in-hand with Lee Norsworthy at KGA to make sure the walls, windows and roofing material met our insulation targets,” Wisdom says. 2. The HVAC system. Brian Patalon, senior mechanical engineer for JBA, explains that he was careful to specify highly efficient chillers and boilers to be controlled by the building management system (BMS). Beyond that, “our casino air handling units all contain energy recovery, so that we can bring in 100 percent outside air but not take a big hit on efficiency,” says Patalon. “The system passes incoming and outgoing air through a large, rotating honeycombed wheel, allowing cold winter air to be preheated by the warmer exhaust, and hot outside summer air to be precooled by the cooler exhaust.” 3. The lighting system. Wisdom explains that the team’s lighting strategy was simple: keep the total wattage down without reducing targeted levels. “In the back-of-house areas, we were able to stay 15 percent below Title 24 using fluorescent and compact fluorescent lighting, but in the front of house, where levels would be higher, we used all LED.” The team also tied the lighting controls into the BMS to allow facility managers the ability to save even more. “In many cases,” Wisdom explains, “the specified lighting
level is more than is really needed, and, since this is a 24-hour facility, there will be certain areas that are not used all the time.”
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
n order to document the savings, PG&E requires the creation of a computer energy model that provides detailed information about the energy used by the building’s systems. “You enter a complete set of parameters, including type and number of light fixtures, boilers, chillers, and the software running a full-year simulation,” Patalon explains. “It outputs two numbers, one for your building and one for a hypothetical baseline building which equals the minimum requirements listed in Title 24. The difference determines the incentives you earn.” The JBA team created an especially detailed model that output about 1,000 pages of information about individual systems, allowing the engineering team to finetune its designs. When the plans were finalized, Wisdom submitted the report to PG&E, together with a summary worksheet. The utility in turn approved the application, and then, once the construction process was complete, sent an auditing team to verify that the systems were installed as specified. Wisdom says the application and audit was exacting, but “Ryan Marruffo was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. He made a huge difference in our ability to successfully navigate the process.” Marruffo says the efforts went extremely well. “It was a pleasure to work with JJ and the others from JBA. They assembled an incredible amount of documentation and made sure it was correct.”
Jim Gist joined JBA Consulting Engineers in June 2011 as the chief sales and marketing officer. He has a dual role of overseeing JBA’s brand growth through communications and marketing, and is also responsible for contracted backlog of sales. Prior to joining JBA Consulting Engineers, Gist held numerous positions throughout his nine years at Control4 including vice president of corporate accounts. He also worked as the director of technology for Monster Cable and vice president of business development at AMX Corporation. casinodesignmagazine.com
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S Multi-Industry Experience AMERICAN PROJECT MANAGEMENT merican Project Management was established in 2003 specifically to assist U.S. clients in a variety of project management, scheduling, project controls, earned value management, claims analysis and consulting services. APM is a certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise and Minority-Owned Business Enterprise. The firm was built on the team’s extensive experience throughout many industries. APM has expertise in both commercial and government business sectors. Industry accomplishments include high technology, information technology, information security, aerospace, avionics, correctional facilities, hotels, casinos, entertainment, public and private schools, and state and local government administration facilities. The result for APM’s clients is an unprecedented wealth of effective knowledge and experience that can lead to unlimited benefits. With 30-plus years of experience, APM has grown from its founding offices in Las Vegas, Nevada with projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, with the ability to serve clients anywhere in the nation. APM’s growing team brings decades of experience in architectural, construction, commercial, correctional, entertainment, gaming, global financial, health, heavy highway/bridge, high-rise residential, high technology, hospitality, information security, information technology, international business, investor relations, marketing, petro-chemical and public works. The firm focuses on serving the multiple needs of clients in a variety of sectors. For more information, visit www.apmlasvegas.com.
CASINO DESIGN 2013
ince 1994, the mission of Bergman Walls & Associates Ltd. has been to provide each client the highest level of individualized service, regardless of project type or size. BWA specializes in entertainment architecture, including resorts, hotels, casinos, conference facilities, restaurants, nightclubs and performance venues. The firm also has extensive experience in mixed-use and high-rise residential projects. Services include architecture, planning, interior design, theming and three-dimensional visualization. BWA offices, located in Las Vegas and Ho Chi Minh City, are staffed by a group of highly experienced and diverse professionals in an atmosphere of innovation and creativity. Every project is headed by a partner-in-charge who commits personal attention to the project from conception through client move-in. After serving as in-house architect for Steve Wynn working on the Mirage and Treasure Island, BWA’s founder, Joel Bergman, created iconic projects that define their genre, including the Paris Casino Resort, the Augustus, Octavius and Palace Towers at Caesars Palace, Trump International Hotel & Tower and the Signature at MGM Grand. A new generation of leadership including Joel’s sons, Leonard and George, has produced important projects across the industry. BWA currently is working on the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles and the new hotel tower for the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi. Entertainment venues include the LAX and PURE nightclubs, Casa Fuente and Rhumbar. Restaurants include Payard Patisserie & Bistro, Guy Savoy, the Capital Grille and the Social House at City Center. BWA is proud to have a history of success working with Native American clients on projects including Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Casino Snoqualmie for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Salishan-Mohegan Casino for the Mohegan and Cowlitz Indian Tribes and Barona Valley Ranch Resort for the Barona Band of Mission Indians. The company provides opportunities to Native American-owned firms and individuals who complement and strengthen the team. International projects include work in Vietnam, Greece, Australia and Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
Ghana, West Africa, as well as conceptual studies in the Philippines, Japan, Romania and Peru. BWA believes that sustainability is fundamental to all design. The company is a member of the United States Green Building Council, has extensive experience with LEED certification and is actively increasing the number of LEED-accredited professionals within the firm. BWA’s goal is simple: that their projects are remembered for their distinctive architecture, excellent guest experience, operational efficiency and financial success. For more information, visit www.bwaltd.com.
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A Sense of Place CLEO DESIGN
Seminole Hard Rock Café Tampa
leo Design’s mission is simple: To underscore a high level of creativity with exceptional attention to function, client needs and individual tastes. Creating a space that reflects a sense of place is the firm’s ultimate goal. “It is as if the world is suddenly viewed with 3D glasses and the amount of detail is revealed in all of its spaces,” says Cleo Design
Beautiful Places, Balanced World CUNINGHAM GROUP ARCHITECTURE
Buffet Interior Entrance, Harrah’s Rincon
Principal Ken Kulas. Although securely grounded and seasoned in the technical and organizational skills required for the hospitality industry, Cleo’s approach to design differs from its competitors. “It’s in our nature to not only follow the rules but create new ones,” Kulas says. “Never repeat, never be complacent and never get bored. Design is not just a profession, but it is part of the passion that moves us forward.” The team at Cleo Design is an imaginative group with a history of collaborating with one another on innumerable projects for most of their professional careers. Yet, each member works as an individual, bringing varied concepts and perspectives to the same project. The team’s striking capabilities are reflected in Cleo’s highly diverse projects from coast to coast, in venues ranging from casino and resort interiors to related public areas, bars and lounges, restaurants and retail locations. The award-winning firm was founded in 2000, with Principals Ann Fleming and Kulas overseeing some of the biggest gaming and entertainment design projects conceptualized this decade. Cleo’s newest portfolio additions include projects for some of the most celebrated Native American casino gaming organizations, such as the Seminoles and the Choctaw Nation, as well as fine dining venues such as the Prime Rib at Maryland Live! and Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay. For more information, visit www.cleo-design.com.
Potawatomi Casino Hotel
uningham Group Architecture, Inc. exists “to create beautiful places for a balanced world,” say the company’s principals. Simple and eloquent, the statement embodies their passion for design and its impact on their clients, communities and the world. Their “Beautiful Places, Balanced World” approach to the business and practice of architecture is one they’ve nurtured for more than four decades. Founded in 1968, the multidisciplinary design firm provides architecture, interior design and urban design services for a diverse mix of client and project types, with significant focus over the last 20-plus years on gaming and entertainment. Bolstered by a staff of 260 and offices in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Biloxi, Denver, San Diego, Phoenix, Seoul and Beijing, Cuningham Group has expanded services and markets to meet a growing demand from some of entertainment’s largest and most respected clients. The company’s portfolio includes casinos, hotels, theaters, convention centers, restaurants, retail venues, master plans and support facilities for gaming and resort destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world. Cuningham Group’s top priority is design excellence through a client-centered, collaborative approach called “Every Building Tells a Story.” This philosophy toward gaming design emphasizes one-of-a-kind solutions—creating experiences and a sense of place by telling stories through a modern interpretation of metaphors that reflect the vision of the client and the character of each property and site. The process benefits clients by providing unique environments that differentiate them from competition. The company also has developed criteria to evaluate all projects based on a “Triple Bottom Line” sustainability business model of “People, Profit and Planet.” Cuningham Group believes for any project
to be sustainable, it also must be profitable to their client. Recent projects include the $205 million Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana that opened this summer and received the 2013 Casino Design Award for “Best Architectural Design Over $100 Million.” Currently under construction is the new 21-story, 381-room hotel tower for Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, set to open in summer 2014. In addition, the firm recently completed the award-winning $650 million expansion and renovation of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. Project successes such as these have led Cuningham Group consistently to be ranked among top firms. Their design work has been honored with more than 140 industry and market awards. Ultimately, Cuningham Group believes good design enhances one’s interaction with a space, and they have enhanced the experiences of countless people in the places they work and play. For more information, visit www.cuningham.com. casinodesignmagazine.com
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years, including Architectural Design Company of the Year (2006, American Gaming Institute and Reed Exhibitions); National Design-Build Award of Excellence for Quechan Resort Casino (2009, Design-Build Institute of FRIEDMUTTER GROUP America); and numerous industry design awards for Twin Arrows Navajo Resort Casino, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Red Rock Resort Casino & riedmutter Group is an award-winning, internationally recognized design, architecture, master planning and interior design firm special- Spa, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Harrah’s AC Resort and many more. In addition, Brad Friedmutter frequently has been honored for his myriizing 100 percent in multi-use hospitality/casino/entertainment projects of all sizes. Founded in 1992 by Brad Friedmutter exclusively to provide ad contributions to the industry, including induction into the 2009 Hospitality Design Platinum Circle, honoring career services to gaming/hospitality clients, achievement in the hospitality industry; the 2008 Friedmutter Group has been identified as a Hospitality Industry Network Lifetime Achievement leader and innovator throughout the industry. Award; and the prestigious 2007 Sarno Lifetime From core and shell architectural design to inteAchievement Award for Casino Design. rior fit-out, Friedmutter Group provides highFriedmutter Group is designing resort master quality, iconic design solutions for clients. plans and iconic architecture in locations all over the The firm has gained critical understanding of globe, including Macau, Hong Kong, Southeast the many required elements of the industry, from Asia, Europe, Australia and across the United States. site selection and development to operating funAdditionally, the firm provides consultant services damentals, while successfully creating unique dealing with hospitality and casino issues and trends design and guiding completion of gaming and to investment groups and financial companies Buffet Interior Entrance, Harrah’s Rincon hospitality projects in existing and new markets around the world. around the world. Friedmutter Group is honored to work with a wide range of owners and Brad Friedmutter, a registered architect in 43 states, holds an unrestricted operators, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Nevada gaming license and has been in the gaming and hospitality industry Station Casinos, Hard Rock International, Melco-Crown Entertainment, for more than 35 years. Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Seminole Gaming, Trump Entertainment Resorts Friedmutter Group’s areas of core expertise are the master planning, and many others. theming, architecture and design and interior design of mixed-use resort Friedmutter Group’s expertise, reputation and dedication have produced projects comprised of hotels, casinos, restaurants, bars and lounges, enteran over 90 percent rate of repeat business from these and other clients. The tainment complexes, convention facilities, spas, pools and outdoor venues, firm values these relationships and friendships enormously and is grateful to retail facilities and malls and hotel/condominium towers. participate in the success of their endeavors. Friedmutter Group successfully has completed projects well in excess of For more information visit www.fglv.com. $15 billion, and has won many industry and design accolades through the
A Million Ways to Dazzle
GASSER CHAIR COMPANY
ost chairs are designed to fill a space. Gasser chairs are designed to elevate it. For more than 67 years, Gasser Chair has been designing, building and perfecting the art of commercial seating, using only the highest quality materials. The purchase of a Gasser chair is an investment in style, innovation and durability that will be a better value over the long run. Artfully designed, beautifully executed and built to endure, Gasser chairs don’t merely perform; they dazzle.
Artisanship that runs deep in the fabric: The beauty of a Gasser chair is more than skin deep—it runs through the entire company from design to construction to customer service. It’s a forte that’s been 67 years in the making. Critically acclaimed design and workmanship: Casinos make customers feel welcome. Gasser Chair makes them feel comfortable. Beyond just looking good, Gasser chairs offer unparalleled comfort and support. It’s this fusion of form and function that ensures a virtuoso performance every time. A flair for design that defies wear and tear: More than just standing out, Gasser chairs are designed to stand up to virtually anything that can be thrown at them. Made from only the highest quality materials and built to 60
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last, Gasser chairs retain their panache long after others have fallen from grace. Custom solutions to let the imagination soar: A casino’s areas of operation come in all different shapes, colors and sizes, and so do Gasser seating solutions. Gasser Chair is not one to provide cookie-cutter solutions to complex challenges. Let the imagination soar and let Gasser custom-design something specifically to a customer’s needs. Gasser Innovations: From the earliest days of its business, product development and improvement were the constant challenges. Not surprisingly, it was simply listening to customers that provided the opportunity for many of Gasser’s successful innovations. Gasser Chair Company is a family-owned business based in Youngstown, Ohio. The second and third generations of the Gasser family, teamed with some of the finest skilled people in all aspects of the business, are guided by the founders’ original principles.Together they continue the tradition and philosophy of developing innovative solutions to customers’ seating requirements and skillfully manufacturing the finest quality seating. All of Gasser Chair’s products are designed and made in Ohio. The majority of the materials used are purchased locally, reducing Gasser’s footprint on the environment. For more information, visit www.gasserchair.com.
An electronic publication that examines the convergence of land-based and online gaming
GBB iGames is a weekly online magazine reporting on the growth and development of iGaming, particularly in North America. In addition to breaking news and analysis of iGaming issues, GGB iGames educates and informs land-based gaming executives on how online gambling works—the basics of the systems, payment processing, affiliate programs, loyalty programs and more. GGB iGames also examines the legislative, legal and regulatory aspects of online gaming. GGB iGames is published by Global Gaming Business magazine, the leading international trade publication of the casino industry. GGB iGames is distributed to more than 15,000 landbased, tribal and government-owned gaming contacts who are decision-makers when it comes to choosing partners in the online gaming sector. Another 5,000 online gaming executives also receive GGB iGames.
ADVERTISE ON GGB iGAMES TO: • Connect with land-based casino operators who trust Global Gaming Business magazine to deliver accurate, up-to-date information • Become a player in intra-state online gaming, which will produce different and diverse businesses opportunities in each state • Understand how your role can be established and expanded in a legal U.S. online gaming industry
For more information, contact NANCY BISHOP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314.566.1350 A PUBLICATION
C O M PA N Y P RO F I L E S Casino Revolution
Thinking Differently HNEDAK BOBO GROUP
s one of the top-tier entertainment and hospitality design firms in the United States, as ranked by HA+D magazine and Building Design & Construction magazine, Hnedak Bobo Group offers a proven history of delivering distinctive design solutions that drive competitive advantage and successful performance results for their clients. HBG’s 90-plus professional staff have been creating highly competitive, exciting casino properties for tribal and commercial gaming clients for 34 years. An award-winning provider of architecture and interior design, the firm has been recognized with more than 200 design and industry excellence awards, including four recent G2E Casino Design awards: 2013 Best
Architectural Re-Design/Expansion for a Casino Resort for the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan; and 2012 Best Architectural Design for a Casino Resort Under $200 Million for Four Winds Casino in Hartford, Michigan. HBG’s Four Winds Hartford project also won the Best Native American Casino Resort category. HBG has built a reputation for thinking differently. Team members know what it takes to operate a competitive property and translate that knowledge into unique project solutions. HBG is one of the few architecture firms working in gaming today to own, operate and develop a fourstar hotel: a successful Westin hotel located within a thriving entertainment district. HBG principals call it “an experiential laboratory for operational efficiency and design innovation.” HBG is able to access real-time insights into the workings of an upscale property to understand the implications design decisions have on every aspect of operations and guest experience. HBG also is known for thinking differently when it comes to project delivery. The firm recently introduced CasinoNow, a unique technologydriven casino design approach developed to accelerate the total project delivery time—giving HBG’s clients a “head start” to realizing gaming revenues sooner. HBG’s recent projects include the new Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo, New York; a new hotel addition at the Apache Casino in Lawton, Oklahoma; and the 500-room hotel tower and casino expansion at WinStar Casino for the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Active supporters of NIGA, NCAI and regional Indian gaming associations, last year HBG was recognized as the NIGA Associate Member of the Year. HBG’s hallmark is delivering well-crafted design and smart, marketsupported projects for clients. The firm’s philosophy is to design more than just buildings for clients: by thinking differently, HBG designs investments and creates lasting value for building owners and their guests. Visit HBG at www.hbginc.com.
The Art of Design
JBA CONSULTING ENGINEERS
esign engineering—at least for the gaming business—is an art as well as a science. It has to be. Gaming is among the most creative yet exacting industries in the world. The building systems in casinos and resorts have to work reliably, be safe and secure, yet provide a unique, exciting experience for guests. “We approach engineering as a discipline,” explains Mike Schwob, principal and manager of acoustical engineering at JBA. “We see each building as a system, and our solutions as a synergistic part of that system.” Yet Schwob and his team are artists as well, helping, for example, to make Hakkasan, the new restaurant and ultra-club at the MGM, the over-the-top experience that it is, by optimizing the acoustics within the structure and isolating the sounds of its music and crowds from the rest of the property. JBA Trusted Advisors take the same creative yet disciplined approach to MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), security and surveillance, master planning, fire protection, telecommunications, audio and video systems, sustainability and data center design. They’ve worked on some of the most challenging projects in the industry, including the Cirque du Soleil Ka Theater, the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay and the City of Dreams in Macau, China. To create the complex, creative yet practical building designs needed for the gaming industry, the engineering firm must foster an unusual degree of cooperation between disciplines. For example, all of a resort’s technology is now carried on the same Ethernet backbone, and successful data-center design takes a close-knit team consisting of security, telecom, audio/visual, electrical and mechanical engineers. 62
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Founded in Las Vegas in 1966 by engineering visionary Ralph Joeckel, JBA grew with the gaming industry, securing work on over 90 percent of the casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, as well as newer projects around the world. JBA has been a standard-setter for many decades—for example, helping to rewrite the Nevada fire and life safety codes in the 1970s. YWS Architects Principal Tom Wucherer noted, “We’ve worked together for more than 25 years on all kinds of big projects, including the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio. I like going to JBA because I know they grasp what we’re trying to do, I know they will help us make it happen and I know they will get it done right.” For more information, visit www.jbace.com.
C O M PA N Y P RO F I L E S
Design that Rewards SOSH ARCHITECTS
S L'Auberge Casino Resort
LIFESCAPES INTERNATIONAL, INC.
stablished in 1958 with corporate headquarters in Newport Beach, California, Lifescapes International, Inc. is an internationally renowned landscape architectural design firm. Having provided design for more than 15 casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as an additional 60 casinos and casino resorts across the United States, Asia and Europe, Lifescapes International continues to create successful, dynamic destinations, wherever they may be. For more than five decades, Lifescapes has been a significant design influence for gaming-related properties (including Native American, commercial and riverboat gaming properties), as well as destination resorts, mixed-use developments, retail centers and entertainment-driven projects. Lifescapes International completed designs for one of the Las Vegas Strip’s newest casino resort additions with the opening of Encore Beach Club in 2012. Previously, the company designed the landscape environment for Encore as well as Wynn Las Vegas for Wynn Resorts. Currently, Lifescapes International is working on Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip plus other casino destinations in the Asia region, in addition to the Golden Nugget’s new project in Lake Charles. The firm recently completed work on Pinnacle Entertainment’s L’Auberge Baton Rouge project. Lifescapes International’s senior principal leadership team consists of Chief Executive Officer/FASLA Don Brinkerhoff, President/Chief Financial Officer Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, Executive Vice President/General Manager Daniel Trust, Director of Field Services Roger Voettiner and Director of Design Andrew Kreft. They all work in unison to create and manage the firm’s projects, with assistance from a team of highly qualified landscape architects, project designers and a strong administrative staff. In addition to successfully working on many national gaming developments, Lifescapes International has worked on a variety of Native American properties, including the original Agua Caliente Casino, Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Hotel, Barona Casino, Pala Casino and Resort and the Spa Casino and Resort. “The entertainment and resort operators, including astute executives within the gaming industry, have realized for many years that stand-alone gaming activities are simply not enough to keep customers fully engaged on their properties,” Brinkerhoff-Jacobs said. “We are now working on nightclubs, beach clubs, retail and restaurant environments so our gaming clients have other captivating amenities for their customers to enjoy during their stay.” For more information, visit www.lifescapesintl.com.
OSH Architects was founded in 1979 on the core conviction that quality design continually rewards the community, the client and the design team. The firm steadily has grown from a company of four partners to its current size of approximately 50 design professionals and support staff engaged in the execution of major master planning, architecture and interior design commissions worldwide. The company philosophy drives a design process that values exploration, visualization and the contributions of multiple voices consistent with their belief that the best design solutions are the result of thoughtful collaboration. SOSH’s principals—Thomas J. Sykes, Thomas J. O’Connor, William A. Salerno and Nory Hazaveh—continue the commitment of personal involvement in each project. With offices in Atlantic City and New York, SOSH Architects has established a worldwide reputation for master planning, architectural design, interior design and strong project delivery achievement. For more than three decades, SOSH Architects has had the opportunity to work on an impressive array of hospitality design projects. From master planning to restaurant renovation, from new tower construction to resort expansions, SOSH has handled every aspect of hotel and casino design on multiple properties in the major urban markets of New York, Philadelphia and Atlantic City, as well as in California, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, Connecticut, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.
Landshark Bar & Grill, Margaritaville Project, Resorts Casino, Atlantic City
Gaming floors, hotel rooms, restaurants, nightclub and entertainment venues, ballrooms, retail stores, lounges, pool and spa retreats, administrative support space, food service facilities and daycare centers all can be found on the same property, and each use brings with it a unique set of challenges and technical requirements. Ongoing or recently completed projects include: Resorts World Bimini in the Bahamas; Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Ohio; Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania; Haven Nightclub at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City; and Margaritaville and Landshark Bar & Grill Pier at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, which was awarded a 2013 Casino Design Award. For more information, contact SOSH Architects at 609-345-5222 (Atlantic City) or 212-246-2770 (New York), email email@example.com or visit www.sosharch.com. casinodesignmagazine.com
Advertisement Index 2013 page 37
American Project Management 4132 S. Rainbow Boulevard, Suite 148 Las Vegas, NV 89103
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.
Jane S. Lee, Managing Partner and Co-founder
201 Main Street SE, Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414
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Gasser Chair Company, Inc. 4136 Logan Way Youngstown, OH 44505 Tel: 800-323-2234 330-759-2234 Fax: 330-759-9844 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gasserchair.com
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Bergman Walls & Associates 2965 South Jones Boulevard Las Vegas, NV 89146 Zen Plaza F12, Suite 1205 54-56 Nguyen, District 1 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel: 702-940-0000 www.bwaltd.com page 13
Hnedak Bobo Group, Inc.
4022 Dean Martin Drive Las Vegas, NV 89103
104 S. Front Street Memphis, TN 38103
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5935 Edmond Street, Suite 115 Las Vegas, NV 89118
Global Gaming Expo (G2E)
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CASINO DESIGN 2013
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Global Gaming Business Magazine
Lifescapes International, Inc. 4930 Campus Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660 Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, President & CFO Email: email@example.com Tel: 949-476-8888 www.lifescapesintl.com back cover
U.S. Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission Tel: 340-773-3616 Commissioner Roderick Moorehead Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tribal Government Gaming
Executive Director Debra Audain Email: email@example.com
Casino Design Magazine SOSH Architects
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www.visiontron.com page 35 page 25 Steelman Partners LLP Las Vegas • Macau • Zhuhai, Ho Chi Minh City • Amsterdam 3330 W Desert Inn Road Las Vegas, NV 89102 Kama Star Business Development Coordinator Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 702-873-0221 www.steelmanpartners.com
YWS Architects Las Vegas • Tulsa • Singapore • Macau 5005 West Patrick Lane Las Vegas, NV 89118 Tel: 702-243-5670 www.ywsinternational.com
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SARNO’S SINS Why Jay Sarno still defines Las Vegas BY DAVID G. SCHWARTZ
may be biased—after all, I wrote his biography—but for my money Jay Sarno is the pivotal figure who explains why casinos look how they do today. There have been plenty of casino builders over the years, and the word “visionary” is often thrown around loosely. But Sarno was a visionary by any measure. Here’s why. Jay Sarno didn’t go into designing and building casinos to please a client or because market research told him it was a niche ready to be exploited. First and foremost, he did it because he was a gambler who thought that Las Vegas was missing the point. When Sarno first came to Vegas, as part of an Atlanta junket sponsored by the Flamingo in February 1963, he was appalled at the terrible plainness of everything that Las Vegas offered. The action at the craps table, sure, couldn’t be beat, but everything else was drab. The dealers dressed like clerks; the cocktail waitresses wore too much; the hotels looked even cheaper than they were. Jay had a different vision of what Las Vegas should be. It was influenced by Miami’s Fontainebleau (where he met and wooed his future wife over the course of a week in 1957), but more profoundly by Jay’s understanding of what men (and, in those pre-liberation times, the focus was unapologetically on men) like him wanted in a casino. Above all, that meant a place where the guest was the center of attention and could escape from reality, if only for a few days. When designing his first casino, Caesars Palace, Sarno used tricks he’d learned building motels in Atlanta, Dallas and Palo Alto. Using screen block as a façade was relatively cheap, and when backlit with lights at night, looked impressive. Statues and fountains classed the place up, putting customers in a frame of mind conducive to gambling large sums. But most important was Sarno’s dictate that everything at Caesars Palace, from the matchbooks to the stationery to the employee uniforms, reference the Caesars Palace theme. Sarno and his designer, Jo Harris, did this with whimsy and tongue firmly in cheek; they didn’t intend to insult their patrons’ intelligence by trying to convince them that they were in Rome. Instead, the point was to build a casino that a Roman emperor would have felt comfortable in, and then substitute the individual customer for that Roman emperor. From today’s perspective, the original Caesars Palace seems quaint. It’s small (less than 700 rooms) and, to our sensibilities, unsophisticated. But Sarno’s big idea—to wrap the experience around the customer—has profoundly affected the design of every good casino built since then. To use today’s vernacular, we’d call the Sarno approach customer-centric. At the end of the day, that’s who he was building for: the average customer, who he imagined as a 66
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Postcard of the original Caesars Palace, Sarno’s first design in Las Vegas. (l.) Jay Sarno at the opening of Caesars Palace in 1966.
man not so different from himself, with not so different desires. Give someone attention, give them comfort, give them beauty—just spoil them a little—and, Sarno understood, they’d come back. Sarno’s other casino doesn’t have quite the cachet of the original. He built Circus Circus only two years after Caesars Palace (internal squabbles put an end to the original Caesars partnership) and initially catered to high rollers. Handicapped by its lack of a hotel (and, federal agents alleged, massive skimming), Circus Circus underperformed. But Sarno was ahead of the curve. In addition to the high rollers, he reached out to slot players, believing that this was a burgeoning part of the business that everyone else was missing out on. When it opened, Circus Circus had more slots than any other Las Vegas casino. Again, he was ahead of his time; by the early 1980s, even Strip casinos had transformed into slot barns with a core of table games. The most important reason to know more about Sarno, though, isn’t what he did. It’s how he did it. Whether it was marathon gambling sessions with best friend Evel Knievel, being accused of offering the biggest bribe in IRS history (he hired Oscar Goodman to defend him), or enjoying the many pleasures that Las Vegas had to offer a man with few inhibitions, Sarno wasn’t capable of doing anything small. He was a colorful character; and it is colorful characters who built the casino industry we know today. While it’s not advisable to duplicate Sarno’s excesses (or his choice of business partners), we can learn a great deal from his career. He still shows us that it’s not enough to know how to run a casino; you need to have a feel for why people are there in the first place to build one that will work. When owners and managers and designers get away from that basic truth, they begin to go wrong. Sarno put the customer smack dab in the middle of his space, and designed the casino around him. And for that, he should be a name that everyone one in the casino business remembers.
David Schwartz is the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Schwartz has published three books about gambling, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling. He recently published a biography of Jay Sarno, Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas. For more information, visit grandissimo.com.
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